Shaul Mofaz
Shaul MofazIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The ongoing defensive operation in Gaza has renewed discussion of the 2005 Disengagement, Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the region. On Sunday, Channel 2 reporters questioned MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima), asking what he thinks today about the Disengagement. Mofaz oversaw the withdrawal as the then-Defense Minister.

Mofaz argued that despite recent events, he still believes the Disengagement was a good idea.

Speaking from the entrance to Soroka hospital, where he was visiting soldiers wounded in Operation Protective Edge, Mofaz  claimed that the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza saved “hundreds” of lives.

“The Disengagement was painful, but there is no doubt that it brought Israel security,” he told Channel 2 reporter Sivan Rahav-Meir. “It was a very important strategic process. Hundreds of lives, maybe more, were saved during the period in which there were no settlements in Gaza.”

“We also gave the IDF freedom to maneuver,” he continued. “Imagine that there were thousands of Israelis living in Gaza during the current reality. The response would be different, and the price would be exponentially higher.”

Rahav-Meir noted that opponents of the Disengagement say that if Israel had not conducted a unilateral withdrawal, Hamas may never have come to power in Gaza. Surveys following the Disengagement showed that Palestinian Arabs largely gave credit to Hamas for the withdrawal.

In addition, the Disengagement left Israel without control of the Gaza-Egypt border, allowing Hamas to gain more advanced weaponry.

Mofaz categorically rejected the argument that the Disengagement strengthened Hamas. “That’s a theory with no support,” he argued, “Hamas would have come to power no matter what.”