“And Abraham (the first Jew) … sojourned in Gerar (Gaza) (Genesis 20: 1)”
“This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Judah according to their families…Gaza with her towns and her villages, to the river of Egypt, and the Great Sea, and its border. (Joshua 15: 20, 47)”
“For the first time in decades, Israeli soldiers prayed in the ancient synagogue in Gaza, which was built in the 6th century and where a beautiful mosaic floor depicting King David was unearthed years ago. Jews have returned to Gaza!!.” Michael Freund, the creator of Shavei Yisrael (a nonprofit organization) triumphantly posted these comments on X, formerly known as Twitter. This touching scene was made possible by the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) recent ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, which is a part of biblical Israel, in order to drive out the Hamas terrorists. Since 2007, Hamas has occupied the Strip and most recently carried out the largest act of genocide against the Jewish people since the Holocaust.
The ancient synagogue was constructed in 508 CE, more than sixty years before the advent of Islam. It is situated in the affluent and exclusive Rimal district, where a number of senior Hamas officials have erected residences. The exquisitely maintained mosaics featuring King David playing the harp, and exotic creatures are the focal point of the synagogue. More than a century later, the synagogue was thought to have been demolished by Muslim Arab invaders from Saudi Arabia who began to conquer and occupy most of the Middle East, Turkey, North Africa, Iran, Spain, Central Asia, and other lands not originally belonging to them.
The world’s first Jew, Abraham, settled in Gerar, which is now the Gaza Strip. (see Genesis 20). That marked the beginning of Gaza’s rich Jewish history. There, too, lived his son Isaac (see Genesis 26). Gaza was assigned specifically to the tribe of Judah (see Joshua 15) and was part of the territory that G-d granted the Jewish people (see Genesis 15:18). The holy prophet and judge, Samson, died in Gaza (see Judges 16). Under the Jewish Maccabean rulers (of Chanukah history) Gaza developed into a major port city for international trade. There was a sizable Jewish population in this area in the Talmudic era, and a Yeshiva (Academy of Advance Torah Studies) was also located there. Many prominent Jewish scholars settled in Gaza in the Middle Ages, producing significant works. Included among them were Rabbi Yisrael Najara, who penned the well-known Shabbat song Kah Ribon Olam, and Rabbi Avraham Azoulay, who (while serving as Gaza’s chief Rabbi) wrote the well-known book Chesed L’Avraham. The Jewish community continued to flourish in Gaza until 1929, when Arab rioters expelled all of its Jews. Subsequently, the British rulers forbade Jews from returning.
Israel freed the Gaza Strip from Egyptian rule in 1967, and the Begin government began promoting Jewish settlement there in 1977. Eventually 21 different-sized communities were constructed, and by 2005, some 8,600 Jews were living there, who went on to establish a farming empire never seen before. They constructed expensive greenhouses where they grew organic, pest-free vegetables and herbs using Israeli technology and setting the global standard for Kosher vegetables. Notwithstanding its modest size, the area produced 15% of Israel’s total agricultural exports, including 60% of cherry tomatoes (an Israeli invention), 70% of organic vegetables, 95% of pest-free lettuce and greens, and 60% of geraniums. The greenhouses owned by 200 farmers living there grossed $200 million USD per year. Along with a sizable telesales and ad printing sector, they also boasted the second-largest dairy in Israel (with 800 cows). An assessment of the community’s assets put it at about $23 billion USD.
In 2005, the left-wing “peace camp” in Israel were successful in pressuring the IDF to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza and force its Jews out of the region (with support from the governments of Israel’s “friends” in Europe and North America who claimed that this would lead to peace). This is perhaps the biggest mistake Israel has ever made, because not only did it fail to bring any peace, but also opened the door for Hamas to take control, launch tens of thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians, murder countless innocent people, initiate at least five wars, and commit the worst atrocity against the Jewish people since World War II.
Amazingly, the multibillion dollar assets were gifted to the Arabs of Gaza by the Israeli government so that they could have a prosperous economy. However, as soon as they received them, all the greenhouses were either looted or used for fighting the Jewish State. As a result, not a single vegetable was ever grown there.
The troops’ joint prayer in the Gaza synagogue moved the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to see it, but no pictures have been posted online due to the IDF’s strict rules on documentation during warfare.
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(Rights to all images used in this article were obtained by the author for commercial use)