Itemizing the Price Israel Paid for the Disengagement
A summary of the Disengagement and its aftermath, written by a leading Gush Katif resident and activist, concludes that the price Israel paid for the overwhelmingly negative results was a brutal one.
The “Disengagement” refers to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza – an apparently unfeasible scenario that can be attributed exclusively to a man known as the Bulldozer, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
It followed a “moral, political, and social struggle that… nearly caused a civil war,” writes Dror Vanunu, the Chairman of the Gush Katif Committee. It involved the uprooting of army camps, as well as 21 blossoming towns and communities of Gush Katif in Gaza and four more in Northern Samaria – a total of some 9,000 people. In addition, army camps and military apparatus were removed and new positions set up precisely on the Green Line.
Vanunu lists four “declared aims” of the withdrawal:
1. Paving the way for the peace process
2. Improving the PA’s economy
3. From a legal standpoint, Gaza would no longer be an Israeli responsibility, and the population there would become self-sufficient and responsible for its own welfare
4. Israel would gain international appreciation
However, none of these four goals were achieved, Vanunu writes. Instead, the negative results encompassed all of the above and more, as follows:
* Israeli concessions of Jewish land cast doubt over the traditional Jewish position that this is, indeed, our Biblical and historical homeland.
* Uprooting the government-backed pioneers and using 57, 000 Israeli Defense Force soldiers and policemen to banish them caused a rift in the nation that has yet to mend.
* Israel has spent about 23.5 billion shekels ($6.35 billion) on the Disengagement and its aftermath: 10.8 billion shekels for uprooting the towns, evacuating the army camps, establishing new military bases, finding temporary solutions for Gush Katif refugees (hotels, caravans), and compensation for residents; 1.5 billion shekels for the infrastructure left in Gaza; 1 billion shekels for the long-term temporary housing; 2 billion shekels for protecting in Sderot and the neighboring communities from Gazan rocket attacks; 8.2 billion shekels for the IDF's Cast Lead anti-terrorist offensive (which could have been accomplished prior to the withdrawal by a much smaller force).
* Lost business: The farmers of Gush Katif produced sophisticated technology for organic and conventional greenhouses and general agriculture; exported vegetables, herbs, and flowers amounting to over $100 million a year.
* Israel’s security, instead of improving, deteriorated when Gaza was turned into “Hamastan,” giving even Al-Qaeda and Iran footholds in the region, via the smuggling in of massive supplies of advanced weapons such as explosives, anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, Al-Qaeda fighters, and weapons experts.
* Not being “inside” Gaza's cities hurt Israel's intelligence efforts to prevent terror attacks and the like.
* Thousands of rockets have been fired at Ashkelon, Sderot, Be'er Sheva, Ashdod, and other areas.
* From a legal standpoint, the international community continue to view Israel as legally responsible for the Gazan population. "Humanitarian" flotillas backed by Muslim fanatics are pressuring Israel.
* In addition, pressure has risen for a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem. The Jews are widely viewed as temporary conquerors not only in Judea and Samaria, but in all of Israel.
* The Goldstone Report, published by the UN in light of Israel’s defensive counter-terror campaign after numerous rocket attacks targeted the citizens of Israel, completely ignored Israel's long restraint and found Israel guilty of war crimes.
* The Palestinian Authority views the Disengagement as a sign of Israeli weakness, leading to the recognition that "Jews understand only strength” and that violence will benefit them more than negotiations. These assumptions led to a Hamas victory in democratic elections in Gaza just a few after the Disengagement.
* Hundreds of public buildings which served the vibrant Gush Katif communities are mainly used today for terror bases. Among them are former synagogues, kindergarten and day care centers, schools, commercial centers, and industrial zones.
* Following the withdrawal, the majority of the population were transferred to pre-temporary living quarters such as tent cities, dormitories, and hotels, where they remained for up to a year. An overwhelming majority - 80% of the population - lost their jobs and businesses.
* The governmental Commission of Inquiry headed by Judge Eliyahu Matza investigated the failure of the Israeli government to provide appropriate solutions for the people from Gush Katif. “This is the most severe violation of human rights in the history of Israel," stated Professor Yedidya Stern, a member of the commission.
Progress that has been made:
In fewer than half of the new communities - Bustan HaGalil, Bat Hadar, Golf-Ashkelon, Bnei Netzarim, Naveh, Yad Binyamin, Mavkiim, Nitzan, and Talmei Yafeh – have permanent homes begun to be built.
In six locations - Hafetz Hayim, B'nei Dekalim, Shomeriya, Yesodot, Neta, and Be'er Ganim (Nitzanim) - infrastructure work has been completed.
In five locations - Amatzyia, Palmachim, N’vei Yam, Nir Akiva, Ariel - infrastructure work has not even started.
Only 157 families (9%) have completed the construction of their permanent homes. Over 1,400 families (85%) continue to live in 18 different temporary sites. Many families, such as young couples, unemployed families and Bnei Menashe, encounter tremendous financial difficulties and will not be able to build their homes without some financial support.
There were 380 agricultural farms in Gush Katif. Only 28% of the farmers have re-established their farms. Only 50% of small business owners of Gush Katif have resumed their activities.