On the Ground Near the Gaza Border

Photo of Dr. Pitz observing Kassam rocket damage at Kibbutz Or Haner in Israel
Dr. Pitz discussing Quassam rocket damage with manager of Kibbutz Or Haner (Jan. 2005)

Middle East Series

I have been teaching Middle East History for many years. Knowing the history is a great advantage for trying to make sense of the current conflicts in the region. My recorded Middle East History Series will be released soon. In the meantime, feel free to listen to this course lecture on modern trends in the Middle East.


In January, 2005 we drove from Haifa in northern Israel to Sha'ar Hanegev, the gateway of the Negev, for our first visit to Kibbutz Or Haner three kilometers from the Gaza border. Expecting semi-arid terrain, we were amazed to see the lush green hillsides and beautiful fields and orchards on land that was so desolate before the Jewish settlers arrived.

Just prior to that visit, a Kassam rocket hit outside the factory on the edge of the kibbutz. Windows were shattered, but no one was injured.

By May of 2006 when we visited again, the situation was more tense. Nine months after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, we interviewed a family that had been relocated from Gaza to Or Haner and learned about their struggles to make a new start hoping that their sacrifice would lead to a more peaceful life.

Instead, the early morning "Red Dawn" warnings blared. We listened to the rumbling of artillery shells in nearby Gaza nearly every day. Three days later, when we were relaxing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, we learned that a rocket exploded just behind the row of homes where we were staying. How did the situation get like this? Here's the story.

mp3 audio   (right click and save target as)

Read Dr. Pitz' article  (The Dispatch, June, 2007)Dr. Pitz visiting orange grove in Sha'ar Hanegev, Israel
Dr. Pitz visiting an orange grove in Sha'ar Hanegev (Jan. 2005)

"This land was utterly desolate. Now the dessert blossoms."

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