newsU.S.-Israel Relations

Pentagon raises eyebrows with claim Gaza ‘lies entirely inside Israel’

Shoshana Bryen, of The Jewish Policy Center, told JNS that she hasn’t seen the Pentagon “or anyone else” use that phrase.

A U.S. Army Soldier assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) tosses a line to a U.S. Army tug vessel from the roll-on, roll-off distribution facility—or floating pier—off the shore of Gaza on May 1, 2024. Credit: U.S. Central Command.
A U.S. Army Soldier assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) tosses a line to a U.S. Army tug vessel from the roll-on, roll-off distribution facility—or floating pier—off the shore of Gaza on May 1, 2024. Credit: U.S. Central Command.

Half a dozen Middle East experts indicated that it was news to them when JNS drew their attention to a recent phrase that the U.S. Defense Department has published on its website referring to the Gaza Strip as “entirely inside Israel.”

“The Gaza Strip, which is about 25 miles long, lies entirely inside Israel and shares a border to the south with Egypt,” C. Todd Lopez wrote on the Pentagon website on Tuesday. “There are three locations along its border where humanitarian supplies could move into Gaza from either Egypt or Israel.”

The same writer wrote the exact same two sentences in an April 4 article on the Defense Department website.

The only other apparent reference to “entirely inside Israel” on a U.S. government website is the testimony of USAID Administrator Mark Green before a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 30, 2019, that “the only assistance that we are able to supply with regard to West Bank, Gaza is that entirely inside Israel, the people-to-people person program that is inside Israel.”

JNS sought comment from the Pentagon about whether Lopez’s articles from Tuesday and from April reflect a change in U.S. policy.

David May, research manager and a senior research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JNS that “the wording is very strange and seems to contradict other U.S. government statements on the status of Gaza.”

“Both articles I’ve seen using this phrasing are from the same author,” May said. “ Perhaps it was an issue with the author or the editors.”

Shoshana Bryen, senior director of The Jewish Policy Center, told JNS that she hasn’t seen the Pentagon, “or anyone else,” use that phrase “especially since Israel moved out entirely in 2005, Gaza had elections without Israeli interference or participation in 2006 and a Hamas-Fatah civil war without Israeli interference or participation in 2007.”

“OMG! As the kids say,” said Bryen, who is also editor of inFOCUS Quarterly.

According to the CIA World Factbook, “The Gaza Strip has been under the de facto governing authority of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) since 2007.”

“Israel in 2005 unilaterally withdrew all of its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip, but it continues to control the Gaza Strip’s land borders, maritime territorial waters, cyberspace, telecommunications and airspace,” the CIA added.

Per the World Factbook, Gaza’s geographical location is “Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Israel.”

The CIA adds that “Gaza has had no Jewish population” since September 2005.

Bryen told JNS that Washington wants to connect the floating pier it has constructed to the land in Gaza, “but the administration cannot put U.S. military construction personnel in Gaza, ‘no U.S. boots on the ground,’ the administration says.”

“Plus, the pier has already been shelled by Hamas or its friends while they were assembling it offshore,” she said.

If Americans were on the ground and were attacked, U.S. President Joe Biden would be rightfully impeached, according to Bryen.

“But if Gaza is inside Israel, we can have boots. American military personnel are in Israel frequently for one thing or another,” she said. “Also, if Americans are attacked inside what they claim is Israel, you can blame Israel, not Hamas.”

“So, just make Gaza part of Israel and—poof—problem solved,” she said.

Bryen noted that after claiming that Gaza is “entirely inside Israel,” the Pentagon said that “there are three locations along its border where humanitarian supplies could move into Gaza from either Egypt or Israel.”

“This is an acknowledgment that Gaza is not Israel—or supplies wouldn’t have to move from Israel into Gaza,” she said. “It is recognition that they are different places—two countries operating across a territory they both border.”

Washington also sought to have Qatar manage the floating pier, but the latter wanted to use a Gaza contractor, tied to Hamas, she added. “That worried some people, but not others.”

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