Although disengagement enjoyed broad support, almost no one calls it a success today… It helped put Hamas in power… Security for Israelis didn’t improve – and even worsened… It contributed to increased isolation for Israel internationally… It raised doubts as to whether the Palestinians are ready for statehood.
Five years after, a major U.S. newspaper summarizes Israel’s Disengagement from Gaza: “It was a big mistake. Entitled “Lessons and Legacies of Israel’s Gaza Withdrawal,” the August 8th Los Angeles Times piece by Edmund Sanders lists a series of conclusions that can be drawn from the abrupt, unilateral pullout from Gush Katif in Gaza orchestrated by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the summer of 2005. Just five months later, Sharon suffered massive hemorrhaging and entered the comatose state from which he has not awoken.
In this last connection, the Times article does not note the ongoing
difficulties in resettling the 9,000 expelled Jewish citizens. It states: “Gaza was a key test of whether an Israeli government would pay the political price needed to remove 9,000 settlers. Dire predictions that such moves would tear the nation apart turned out to be exaggerated.”
This, however, is an under-estimate of the terrific damage domestic damaged that was caused, both in terms of solidarity felt by a significant political sector with the government and the suffering caused to the uprooted settlers themselves. In addition, Sanders does not note that a government commission assigned to investigate its handling of the expelled citizens found that the government had utterly failed in this regard.
Without the funds, the Jewish settlers would have destroyed the greenhouses to keep them out of Arab hands as they were forced out of Gaza Strip, The New York Times said. The greenhouses would have provided jobs for 3,500 Palestinians and had been a lucrative market for fresh produces for Jewish settlers.
The Times said Mortimer B. Zuckerman, publisher of the New York Daily News and a real estate tycoon, last week got a request from former World Bank head James D. Wolfensohn to raise money in order to save the greenhouses. Zuckerman sent out word to Jewish organisations in the United States for help. Within 48 hours, he received $14 million. Wolfensohn, who contributed $500,000 of his own, is the international envoy to Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.
Within weeks of the Israeli disengagement, ALL the greenhouses had been vandalized or completely destroyed by the Palestininas, and today remain unusable.
In any event, “only 35 percent [of Israelis] envision evacuations [in some/all Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria],” Sanders concludes, compared with 58 percent in 2005.
Sanders confirms that the anti-Disengagement camp’s warning that the withdrawal would provide a supportive back-wind for terrorism came true. “Hamas got to crow that its policy of armed resistance and attacks on Israeli civilians had led to the withdrawal,” he writes.
In 2006, Israeli troops temporarily went back into Gaza in an attempt to stop continuing Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli towns and villages. The Israeli army found that the greenhouses were now being used to build arms-smuggling tunnels.
“Immediately after the pullout, 84 percent of Palestinians viewed the disengagement as a ‘victory’ for armed resistance… Perceptions of a Hamas triumph over Israel and frustration over Fatah’s alleged corruption propelled Hamas —which in 2004 was polling at just 20 percent — to victory in several local elections a few months after the withdrawal. In 2006, Hamas won parliamentary polls; a year later, it seized control of Gaza by force, creating the current Fatah-Hamas rift.”
Regarding Sharon’s false prediction that quitting Gaza was likely to save Israeli lives, Sanders writes that Israel actually “traded a low-intensity quagmire for what Prime Minister Netanyahu today calls an ‘Iranian port’ south of Tel Aviv, referring to Iranian support for Hamas and other extremist groups in Gaza. Despite Israel’s attempts to seal off borders, seaports and airspace, longer-range rockets were developed, and soon thousands were being launched at southern Israeli cities.”
“In the two years before disengagement,” Sanders writes, “seven Israelis were killed by rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza. Since the pullout, 28 have been killed, according to the Sderot Media Center.” ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS