A letter in the Philadelphia Inquirer incorrectly suggested that “revenge and hatred” motivated Israel to demolish settlers’ homes in the Gaza Strip and argued that leaving the homes intact would be a “powerful gesture of reconciliation.” In fact, as a later CAMERA letter in the Inquirer clarified, the Palestinian Authority and Israel together decided on the demolitions. Even before the PA/Israeli agreement, Palestinian Housing and Public Works Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told Reuters that “If Israel does not destroy settlers’ homes, we will destroy them.” And Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Voice of Peace radio, “I will tell the Israelis to demolish all of [the homes].”
The CAMERA letter follows:
Agreement in Gaza
Re: “Don’t bulldoze in Gaza,” letter, Aug. 23:
The writer misconstrued the destruction of settlers’ homes in the Gaza Strip as driven by “revenge and hatred.” The decision to raze them was reached in consultations between Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinian cabinet minister Mohammad Dahlan explained during an Aug. 9 interview on Iraqi television that Palestinians prefer higher-density housing over the single-family homes of departing Israelis: “We do not want the houses… . [they] do not serve the needs of the Palestinian people, first of all, because the population increase is very high…”
As a gesture of reconciliation, Israel is leaving public buildings and greenhouses intact for Palestinian use and is also leaving the rubble from the homes for use in Palestinian construction projects.
Israel also agreed to remove toxic materials such as asbestos from Gaza.
The writer is a research analyst with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.