What Happened To The Gaza International Airport Is What’s Happening Again Today In Israel

Secret Flying says they will no longer post flight deals to Israel until there’s a Palestinian state. My belief is that Secret Flying has been stealing content from other deal sites, forums, blogs and news sites all over the internet without attribution for years, and suddenly develops a moral compass?

Such an odd flex in any case because Palestinians heading from the U.S. to Gaza would fly into… Tel Aviv.

Boycotting flight deals to Israel “until a two-state solution is in place,” is an easy platitude but who is Israel supposed to negotiate with? There hasn’t even been a Palestinian Authority election since January 2006. And what compromise is possible?

In 2000 Arafat was offered a state that included 95% of desired land. He could not accept because he’d have been assassinated. Hamas does not want a negotiated peace, but to destroy Israel and kill Israelis. “From the river to the sea..” means cleansing of Jews.

Palestinians are getting a raw deal. They’ve gotten a raw deal from Hamas, who kept them from having a state and whose goal is to see Palestinians killed by Israel in response to their attacks – to prevent normalized relations with Arab neighbors (they were on the brink with Saudi Arabia) and to prevent two co-existing states.

There is no good end game that I am visionary enough to see. Israel can’t govern Gaza, and whatever replaces Hamas may not be different. And after this attack, Israel will not feel secure with a Palestinian state controlling Gaza.

I feel for the massacred Israelis and their families and for the hostages that have been taken. I also sympathize with the plight of Palestinians.

But anyone who simply says “we need a Palestinian state” with no talk of what that looks like (within any zone of possible agreement that the parties could sign onto) and how to get there simply is not serious.

It wasn’t always this hopeless. Things seemed so much better at the turn of the last century. The 1995 Oslo II Accord included international funding for Yasser Arafat International Airport in the Gaza Strip. Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands donated a Boeing 727 and 2 Fokker 50s to help launch Palestinian Airlines.

Palestinian Airlines Fokker 50, credit: Bram Steeman via Wikimedia Commons

The new Gaza airport opened in 1998, and Bill and Hillary Clinton attended the official grand opening. At the time there were plans for a port and for a… casino! It was a time of hope.

In 2000 they forced Arafat to turn down a deal for a Palestinian state. Hamas sabotaged peace then, launching scores of suicide bombings. October 2023 is hardly their first foray into killing Jews. To defend itself from attacks and limit the ability of Hamas to supply itself with weapons, they destroyed the Gaza airport’s control and radio towers in 2001 and bulldozed its runway in 2002 in response to the Second Intifada and killing of Israeli soldiers.

Palestinian Airlines did not shut down! They moved to El Arish International Airport 29 miles away in Egypt. But Egypt took a full day to process Palestinians crossing the border.

Eventually the airline shut down in 2005, though they briefly restarted service again in 2012 before leasing their aircraft to Niger Airlines. (The planes were returned in summer 2020, and the airline formally shut down in 2021.)

Hamas does not want a compromise with a peaceful two state solution and they’ve blocked one for decades. Sympathy for Hamas sickens me because they have caused an entire generation of Palestinian suffering, trading it for the hope of destruction of Jews.

That’s also let Israeli politicians play to voter fears and ‘taken them off the hook’ from pursuing a peace that seemed impossible. I’m not sure what the real alternative there is, but we haven’t seen Israeli leaders who pressed for peace since Yitzhak Rabin (who was assassinated for his peace efforts), Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak. It’s not clear what peace has been available.

President Clinton, who nearly achieved Mideast peace, relays in My Life that Arafat once told him “You are a great man” and Clinton replied, “I am not a great man. I am a failure, and you made me one.”

Now Israel must defend itself and murderers of civilians should certainly be punished, but there are difficult moral questions around how you do that when the perpetrators hide amongst civilians and use them as human shields? Hamas is not offering terms for peace. Even if they negotiate a cease fire their very purpose is to repeat what they’ve done and more.

So what is the appropriate response here? I am not sure there is one other than that the lives of Palestinians are being sacrificed first by Hamas and then as a consequence of what Hamas has done and maybe in there Israel goes too far.

Much of Palestinian suffering has been brought on – on purpose – by Hamas, so that Palestinians would be symbols of suffering. It helps their cause with foreign allies (who do not open their borders to refugees). It helps their recruiting. And it helps their ultimate goal of destruction of the Jewish state and of Jews. That doesn’t excuse the role that Israeli leaders have played.

These are difficult moral questions and I have a degree of uncertainty. I hope that the situation doesn’t escalate further bringing war with Iran and directly engaging the United States and how many nuclear powers need to be at war at one time?

A quarter century ago democracy was ascendant. China appeared on a path to freedom. David Hasselhoff sang about freedom atop the Berlin Wall as the Iron Curtain fell. And a new airport was inaugurated in Gaza and a U.S. President attended. All of that hopefulness of my youth has departed.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. ” But Israel is trying to minimize civilian casualties as it strikes back at Hamas, while Hamas intentionally targeted civilians including children for killing and abduction.” More than 2,300 people, a quarter of them children, with nearly 10,000 wounded so far in Gaza as a result of Israeli bombing. They are not trying to minimize civilian casualties. I don’t understand how you can even suggest nonsense like that especially with the statements coming from the Israeli government. If you listen to the Israeli ambassador to the UK there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Like seriously look it up. The israeli government is outright lying at this point about the situation in Gaza. Heck they even lied about Hamas chopping off the heads of babies, because that subsequently turned out to be fake news.

  2. Israel is not minimizing Palestinian casualties when engaged in its “security” operations this month in Gaza in the way it is. The anger at Hamas’s atrocities and Hamas’s exposure of Israel as not infallible in the realm of security and intelligence has now combined with a decades’ long and growing anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism that has led to such a dehumanization of Palestinians that war crimes against them become a lot more tolerated or even welcomed.

  3. @Bill – who do you think lied about babies being beheaded? This was an unverified claim in the media but not one put out as fact by the Israeli government. You think it matters that Hamas ‘only’ killed and burned babies?

  4. @GUWonder I have written that to the extent Israel’s operation veers into vengeance that is not justified – but it is a fine line and I have concerns but not a firm belief that this is what is happening. Some of the rhetoric has souded like it (which is why I said so).

  5. The IDF had uniformed officers on TV saying that Hamas had beheaded babies in Israel. I was hoping such claims would turn out to be as inaccurate as when the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US told us that Iraq was tossing babies out of Kuwaiti hospital incubators as part of the campaign to get Americans to sign up for GHW Bush’s war on Iraq, you know the war in which Syria was a US ally against Saddam Hussein. But babies or not, Hamas’s attack was shocking not only in its audacity but also in the scale of its horrendous brutality.

  6. @GUtlessWonder – So if someone invades your home, rapes your wife, kills your son, and starts shooting at you and your remaining family, because he brought along his infant and strapped it to his chest as armor, you’re supposed to shoot yourself in the head and let him finish off the rest of the family?

    Brilliant logic.

  7. Given the passion with which some comment to the Hamas-Israel conflict and the availability of other sites for those comments, Gary, I urge you to leave news about that conflict to others. Coverage of air service will not suffer if you confine your remarks to that and omit details about the treatment of individuals by members of Hamas or the Israeli IDF.

  8. @Gary It appears Israel just bombed a hospital. Hundreds of people dead and many more wounded. This is what you call minimizing civilian casualties? I would also direct you to an article on CNN about families that followed the IDF evacuation order and then were bombed and killed in the evacuation zone. Israel has no interest in minimizing civilian casualties and I’m not sure how many more civilians in Gaza need to die before some people see the light and acknowledge that.

  9. @Gary “who do you think lied about babies being beheaded? ” – umm Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesperson was pushing this narrative before they backed off it when reporters started asking questions. You say what does it matter? It just shows the dishonesty. You think it was accidental they said that? At a time when they are trying to compared Hamas to ISIS? Over a 1000 children have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. Let’s not push the lie that Israel is trying to minimize civilian casualties. It’s obviously not true.

  10. The IDF spokespersons are claiming the Baptist Arabi hospital whose patients were massacred by a direct hit from above were killed by Hamas or Islamic Jihad’s rockets. They were hit by the IDF which will probably end up claiming that they were targeting rocket launch locations nearby. This way, they avoid images of babies dying in incubators due to Israel’s siege of Gaza using strategy and tactics that amount to a war crime.

  11. I’m going to wait a few more hours to pass judgment on the horrible hit on that hospital, whether it was an accident in IDF targeting, whether it was a rocket from Northern Gaza. We know that a tragedy occurred. There will be plenty of time for recriminations. E.g. https://twitter.com/sentdefender/status/1714383923881373908

    Updated to add Israel’s claim that the source of the rockets that hit the hospital was Islamic Jihad. https://twitter.com/sentdefender/status/1714396572933316611

    At a minimum actual blame right now is disputed. So I’ll simply focus on the tragedy that befell everyone at that hospital and wait for the facts to sort themselves out about who did it.

  12. I was just about to say that. There are cameras everywhere, it’s surely documented – if whoever has the footage wants it documented.

  13. The IDF also wiped out a UNRWA flour storage site. That was no accident either. There are no red lines for the IDF, so this is how IDF targeting of Gaza works by design nowadays. They’ve also hit UNRWA schools.

    This is not an Israel that does itself proud.

  14. CM/Chuck,

    The power in Gaza was cut by the Israeli government, which has implications for which/whose cameras work and don’t work. And then there is the whole thing about EWMs, and one violent party to this conflict is far more capable than the other violent parties to this conflict.

    The destruction capability of any given Hamas rockets ever used pales in comparison to what hit this hospital in Gaza. And the other non-state-actor militant groups in Gaza are more arsenal poor than Hamas. Hezbollah is a different story, but Hezbollah doesn’t launch attacks from Gaza and has so far this round been sticking to its dance with Israel so as to avoid escalation.

  15. Israel’s ambassadors to various countries in Europe and the Americas have been provided — and been putting out — messaging that claims there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. If they believe their own messaging, they are delusional; and if they don’t, their credibility is still down the drain with anyone who has a normal functioning brain and even a modicum of respect for the truth.

  16. Given the way of determining the outcome is based on narrative domination rather than examination of the material damage at the hospital site, take those odds to be a bet about propaganda success more than about objective examination of the damage site and material tracing.

  17. Right now everyone wants ‘the other side’ to be responsible. Given the ambiguity and competing narratives, right now anyone that is absolutely certain of who is responsible is not being honest, including with themselves.

    A terrible tragedy occurred. That’s where my mind is focused, realizing that it will take some time to sort through who was actually responsible.

  18. I would prefer if it were rather the munitions of Hamas or Hamas allies that hit the hospital and not the IDF’s munition type that landed on the hospital, but it wasn’t unless PIJ has firepower that even Hamas doesn’t have in Gaza.

    The Israeli government is speaking with a forked tongue on this matter, and that is sadly where the dishonesty begins and ends on this matter. Anything and everything to avoid admitting the humanitarian crisis is being exacerbated by a furious Israel that has had no red lines in Gaza after Hamas’s brutal attacks this month. The fury is understandable, but the absence of red lines is just all around morally bankrupt and even counterproductive unless fully invested in ethnic cleansing of a lot of Gaza and not concerned about becoming a pariah because of sufficient “stand with Israel” backing to get away with wrongdoings that deserve nothing short of universal condemnation.

  19. @Jew-Hating GUtlessWonder – Ammo dumps make big boom when hit by stray rockets.

    There’s lots of bad video out there – but there’s also a video on X that shows a wave of rockets launched from Gaza, followed short thereafter by a large explosion in the area of the hospital. Not verified, but that may be the video.

    There’s another video showing what appears to be a rocket launch failure, the rocket exploding or intercepted, and two pieces falling to the ground, the second one a huge explosion near a large building. Not verifies or tied to the previous video, but again, as possibility. And from what I understand, Iron Dome doesn’t intercept in the ascent phase, nor over Gaza, so although there’s a chance this is an intercept, it’s more likely a motor failure. AFWIW, intercepting a Gaza rocket launch anywhere and having the pieces fall on civilians is unfortunate, but on Hamas.

    Still too early to call, but the early video evidence isn’t looking good for the Jew-haters. They’re about to go full Cenk.

  20. C_M’s baseless, misdirected character assassination effort above is a sign that the rest of the words provided by C_M rest upon awful judgment ability.and a lack of honesty in assessing a situation..

    PIJ’s munitions arsenal is not capable of doing the damage from a single hit in the way that happened at the Baptist hospital in Gaza. Same goes for Hamas’s munitions arsenal. What’s next C_M blame Hezbollah for sending a Scud over northern Gaza and having hit the Baptist hospital? If Baghdad Bob were still around, he could find plenty of industry colleagues working for or on behalf of the IDF nowadays.

  21. @Jew-Hating GUtlessWonder – Your “hot take” isn’t looking so hot. Even the number of casualties is suspect. Where is the rubble? The footage is largely from non-Israeli sources, Israeli-based sources largely corroborate the Al Jazeera ones. Even “The Independent”, not known for being pro-Israel, doesn’t back up your story.

    I won’t hold my breath waiting for your retraction and apology.


  22. Good article, taking in much more complexities than what I’m hearing everywhere else. I’ll probably add that Netanyahu seems to be a trump like individual who is concentrating on consolidating power and culture wars, rather than having the intellect to see which seem to be high chance of happening. The victims here are the Jewish people and the Palestinians. It seems Hamas only one goal that’s hating Jewish people and if they have to kill everybody to do it, they will.

  23. I find this article inaccurate and siding with Israel’s propaganda. Have you read the Israel Project by chance? Your wording is very similar. Unfortunately, Israel’s current genocide is bringing to light that many Americans (myself included) have been very wrong about Israel’s plan (not for peace by any means, but for land/oil).

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