15 years later:
The full IDF operational Gaza expulsion plan

2004 IDF document reveals detailed plans to pacify and expel the Jews of the Gaza Strip.

Mordechai Sones ,

Gaza expulsion
Gaza expulsion
Flash 90

A March, 2004 draft of the IDF operational plans to expel the Jewish communities of the Gaza Strip caalled "Operation Eshel Tz'chiach", or, "Parched Tamarisk", detailed all military and logistical aspects of the expulsion, including psychological warfare to maximize the shock of surprise and neutralize resident's resistance.

Arutz Sheva is explicitly mentioned in the IDF document as an information outlet necessary to jam, to prevent accurate information from reaching evacuees: "If necessary, the Communications Corps will jam the cellular phone networks in the entire Gaza Strip and nearby area. It is necessary to prevent in any way possible pirate radio broadcasts from the Arutz Sheva ship or similar ones, and to locate immediately illegal transmitters operating throughout Israel and the territories. The appropriate orders for jamming communications of those resisting evacuation and their sympathizers will be handed down to the Communications Ministry and responsible units for electronic warfare in Military Intelligence."

Arutz Sheva was legalized in the Knesset on February 23, 1999.

The author's English translation of the document in full follows:

15 March 2004

Subject: Headquarters work – Deployment for Separation in Gaza Strip area – map of Gaza strip: deployment of Israeli settlements, code map for Gaza Division, roads and installations.

Chapter I: General Outline for Separation Plan

1) Working basis for Separation Plan as relayed by the Prime Minister, Mr. Ariel Sharon, involves a single-stage process for the transfer of settlers from 18 settlements from the Gaza Strip into the borders of the State of Israel.

2) Timetable: Total evacuation of entire Gaza Strip zone – not later than Tuesday 7 September 2004, about a week before the start of Rosh HaShana 5765.

3) Included in Appendix A document Preparation for Dangers and Emergency Deployment for situation in which riots and hostile activities by extremist elements among settlers and their supporters within Israel and the territories.

4) Transfer of approx. 7,500 residents with their chattels and property will be done as early as possible for those settlers who deem it correct to evacuate willingly to houses and estates that have been designated for them in the settlements of the Negev and Lachish Strip areas. Chapter II, Operation “Parched Tamarisk - Eshel Tz’chiach”, will detail the necessary actions for forced evacuation of extremist elements among the settlers.

Chapter II – Operation “Parched Tamarisk - Eshel Tz’chiach

5) Scenario A: Most settlers, 70% based on polls, decide to evacuate. For this group, commencement of evacuation will take place no later than July 2004 or earlier, subject to instructions from the political level.

6) Scenario B: 30% of settlers evacuate willingly – the evacuation will take place no later than early August 2004, immediately after completion of willing evacuation of residents. The relatively long duration between willing evacuations and forced evictions is intended to serve the following goals:

  • To leave minimum number of residents in area to destroy possibility of joining resistance activities;
  • To allow resistors time to reassess their position;
  • To prevent re-capture of houses and public buildings by local and outside opponents of the evacuation, each evacuated house will be immediately destroyed by tractors or controlled explosion.
  • Roads, industrial buildings, and greenhouses will be destroyed during the final separation phase, at which time electricity, water, and communications infrastructures will be disconnected.

7) From the beginning of the forced eviction stage, electricity, water, and communications infrastructures will be cut off from houses, public buildings, and synagogues.

8) If necessary, the Communications Corps will jam the cellular phone networks in the entire Gaza Strip and nearby area.

9) It is necessary to prevent in any way possible pirate radio broadcasts from the Arutz Sheva ship or similar ones, and to locate immediately illegal transmitters operating throughout Israel and the territories.

10) The appropriate orders for jamming communications of those resisting evacuation and their sympathizers will be handed down to the Communications Ministry and responsible units for electronic warfare in Military Intelligence – under the responsibility of Military Intelligence and the Chief of Staff – the order to be given by the Chief of Staff according to instructions from the political echelon.

11) Scenario C: In the worst case, less than 30% of settlers decide to evacuate willingly. In any case, commencement of unwilling evictions in all scenarios – 00:00 hours, Sunday, 22 August, 2004.

Forces and Tasks:

13) Forces for Scenario A, operating modes for all scenarios: Regular Gaza Division, reinforced by approx. 500 Israeli Police, Border Guards, and two Special Storm trooper teams. Forces will be assigned in squads, medics and rescue teams, firefighters and field hospitals will be deployed throughout the Gaza Strip in coordination with Gaza Division. Teams of female soldiers accompanied by psychologists and Mental Health Officers will be activated alongside the eviction forces. Preparation for the military command from Company Commander level and above will be concluded by early July 2004. Dry-run evacuation exercise will take place in Mitkan Adam with female soldiers from Tzrifin training base, with representative framework of all forces including Gaza Division Command. Final scope of forces will be determined close to the time of the evacuation, subject to updated analysis of situation by Southern Command, GSS, and Israeli police. In the case of violent resistance, tear gas will be used by order of the Battalion Commander. In the case of settlers opening fire – retreat and giving over of control to Special Storm trooper teams. General instructions in case of fire by settlers: all forces shall cease-fire, even in the case of wounded among our forces – do not return fire so as not to aggravate the situation. Special Storm trooper snipers shall open fire and target legs, body, or head according to need, with the object of completely paralyzing attack fire by settlers at all costs. In extreme cases of heavy exchanges of fire developing, endangering our forces in an extreme manner, retreat to nearby cover with the aim of calming the situation and for continued consultation and decisions by political echelon. Take into account suicides by settlers, buildings being lit on fire with occupants still in them, coinciding with unprecedented mass riots making their way towards our sources of fire. According to the decision of the political level, in extreme cases of prolonged exchanges of fire, with the aim of saving human lives, orders will be given to break into houses that are sources of fire with tractors and controlled automatic light-weapons fire onto specific targets. It will be the responsibility of the Israeli police to prepare, in the case of emotions running hot due to wounded, preventative measures in the various areas of the country to suppress or crush marches, demonstrations, riots, or arson attacks against installations, buildings, and vehicles across Israel. In extreme cases the military censor will be activated on an emergency basis to stop broadcasts of foreign networks from areas of battle against settlers and rioters. A news blackout will be in effect for local television and radio networks, and the entire Gaza strip will be declared a closed military zone. A task force to prevent hostile acts by Palestinian organizations at the time of the evacuation will activate a “belt” in areas surrounding Gaza settlement evacuation zones. This “active belt” of forces will not participate in actual eviction, and will be comprised mainly of reservists who will be requested to carry out this task in a private talk with their commanders. Soldiers who refuse passively will be sent to tasks outside of the Strip, and it is the commanders’ responsibility to identify officers and commanders who are likely to disturb the evacuation process, whether by passive or active means.

Tasks
14) Order of Evacuation: Following is the order of folding the settlements of the Strip, approximate number of residents of each settlement, and timetable of a day or two for folding each group of settlements as follows:

  • a) Netzarim – 450; Kfar Darom – 250; The folding of Netzarim and Kfar Darom which are separated from Gush Katif and the settlements of North Gaza, will be executed separately from the other settlements. Timetable for execution: Motzei Shabbat 21 August 2004, 00:00 hours.
  • b) Tel Katifa – 100; Katif – 330; Kfar Yam – 20; Shirat Yam – 45; Timetable for execution – Monday 23 August 2004, 00:00 hours. Execution taking into account lessons from previous evacuation a day or two before.

Rotation of forces for rest, evacuation of wounded, reassesmant of situation by Gaza Division {Agam}. General Staff {hamalam} – Psychologists estimate that at this phase the willpower of those resisting eviction will break, together with hasty acts of desperation.

c) Netzer Chazani – 400; Ganei Tal – 400; Shalev – 50. Scenario for quick evacuation – 25 August 2004, at very latest Friday afternoon, 25 August.

d) Neve Dekalim – 2,000 people; Gadid – 650; Beginning Motzei Shabbat 00:00 hours, 28 August 2004 – maximum concentration of forces, refreshing of exhausted forces {batudot m’ugdat Patzan}, reinforcing Special Storm troops, Border Police, and {Yammam} for instances of rioting. 3 to 4 days for disassembly and destruction of buildings and the transfer of residents.

e) Morag – 500; Rafiach Yam – 180; Payat Sadeh – 110; Execution commencing on the eve of 1 September 2004 at 00:00 hours. In case the residents collapse, continued movement to take control of Bnei Atzmon, Bedolach, Kfar Atzmonah, and Gan Ohr. In case of continued resistance, evacuation will be paused on Friday afternoon 3 September, for redeployment opposite Palestinian forces throughout the Strip. Continuation of the evacuation will be postponed until the eve of Sunday, 5 September, for the folding of the remaining settlements of the Strip:

f) Bnei Atzmon – 500; Bedolach – 220; to be completed between Sunday and Monday

g) Kfar Atzmonah – 50; Gan Ohr – 350.

h) Total – 6,605 residents not including sympathizers who are likely to join them

i) Completion of evacuation between Monday, 6 September 2004, and Tuesday, 7 September 2004. IDF will group along Philadelphi road and take positions from beach line until Green Line border, while breaking contact with Palestinian forces and retreat to deployment lines across from border fence.

15) Forces for scenarios A and B: Gaza Division reinforced with reserve forces, 1,000 Israel police, special Storm troops and regular blue shirts, 5 Battalions of Border Guards, and Special Police unit, fully armed for suppressing actions with cold and hot weapons by extremist settlers. Forces will be accentuated with field hospitals, psychologists, Rabbis, Mental Health officers, and female soldiers. Working assumption for Scenario B - 2,000 settlers and their families remain in the area reinforced by 1,000 sympathizers who will arrive despite Police roadblocks and the declaration of Gaza and the area as a closed military zone. As mentioned above, emergency deployment of Police and GSS throughout Israel to prevent serious disturbances at the time of the evacuation.

16) Scenario C – more than 60% of settlers refuse offers to evacuate willingly – use of forces as mentioned above in para. 13 – forces, tasks, and operational modes for all scenarios. In case of intensification of conflict, Gaza Division will be reinforced by regular army and/or emergency call-up of reserves with authorization of political echelon.

17) Enemy Activities: In all scenarios, enemy activities have been taken into account: mortar and/or Kassam rocket fire against evacuation forces and settlements within and without Gaza Strip; ambushes and roadside bombs against forces and civilians, thousands of unarmed Palestinian civilians charging towards abandoned houses, greenhouses, and industrial areas to take control of property and spoils.

18) General Staff work for preparing operational deployment of Gaza Division and other IDF forces has been given to the office of the Chief of Staff for preparing detailed plan.

19) Based upon updated intelligence close to the evacuation, taking into account initiating military action by regular forces to suppress hostile actions and attacks by Palestinians and terror organizations, and similarly Hezbollah activity aimed at heating up the Northern border during Israel’s retreat from the Strip.

20) The political and military echelons must make a supreme effort to pass the territory to the Palestinian Authority clean and cleared out after the total destruction by tractors and IDF machines. As a lesson from the retreat from Lebanon, no ordnance or mines may be left in the entire Strip.

21) Cemeteries will be left in place as per agreement with the Palestinian Authority not to disturb holy places. Synagogues and Study Halls will be destroyed together with other buildings of the Gaza settlements. Electric, water, and communications infrastructures connected with the Palestinian Authority will not be touched.

22) Navy Activity: Based upon intelligence estimates there exists a need to prepare for scenario where Hezbollah and Palestinian organizations in Lebanon will attempt to land on Gaza beach immediately after or even during evacuation, for victory marches and to take positions on the border fences of the Strip.

23) Victory marches of the Hezbollah and Palestinians must be suppressed to prevent intensified hostilities within Israel and along its borders with Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon.

24) For the near term, the National Security Council will consult with the political echelon regarding the possibility of introducing European and UN forces as a buffer between the terror organizations and the Palestinian Authority, and Israel.

25) The National Security Council recommends that Israel do everything possible to reduce friction between foreign forces and the Palestinians if they deploy in the area.

26) The Navy will prevent the landing of Hezbollah and their sympathizers on the beach using all means.

27) Air Force activities using Attack Helicopters and Jets: According to the plan, the Air Force will operate in two main modes: passive observation during evacuation, and active intervention in case of detection of hostile force movement, including active prevention against mortar and Kassam launchers being used against evacuation forces, including targeted {assassinations}.

28) Helicopter fire will commence on order of OC Southern Command. Fire from warships and Air Force planes against sea and land targets on the beach will be responsibility of second in command to Chief of Staff/Military Intelligence, and Commander of Navy.

29) Intelligence and Electronic Warfare: wiretapping and jamming under responsibility of Communications Corps / {T”P} Southern Command and Gaza Division.

30) Sealing off of roads in all areas of Gaza for the following zones: cutting off of Netzarim area and Kfar Darom by brigade force; Gush Katif: 2 reinforced brigades; North Gaza Strip: battalion of reserves and company of Border Guards (3 settlements are left at this stage in place). Air Force flights above Gaza cities throughout all stages of evacuation for deterrence and observation.

31) Civilian and/or armed Palestinian attempts to destroy border fence: Responsibility of Gaza Division to suppress any attempt to collapse or deactivate security fence. Refrain from intentionally harming Palestinian civilians gathering alongside Strip fences for victory marches, as long as they do not endanger our forces. Live fire will be used against those breaking through fence into our territory with authorization of evacuation command/Gaza Division.

Addendum A: Estimated Dangers and Emergency Preparations

1) Relocation of evacuated residents to areas in Israel: Women and children will be transferred to Community Centers or for mental/medical treatment in various settlements in the South of the country.

2) Men will be transferred to Selection and Identification Camps according to their participation in riots against security forces.

3) Prepare trucks and vehicles for transfer of tractors and mobile agricultural equipment to Israel.

4) Responsibility of Police and Prison Service to prepare holding and interrogation facilities for rioters, murderers, and rabble-rousers from among settler community.

5) Conduct with maximum restraint, being considerate of evacuated residents’ calls of anger and despair.

6) Soldiers and Officers suffering from trauma symptoms will be removed from zone.

7) Attending to residents’ physical needs under responsibility of Gaza division. The dead will be removed to hospitals after identification and notification to families according to rules.

8) According to Scenario A, up to 20 dead are expected, and in Scenarios B and C depending upon level of armed deterioration and shooting, including hostile Palestinian actions against our forces (in the belt of forces dividing between Palestinian forces and evacuation forces) – between 100 and 300 dead.

9) In our estimation, there will be no choice but to declare a state of emergency throughout the entire State of Israel on the eve of and during the evacuation, and in the possible aftermath as listed above.

Note: The document has been changed in certain details to prevent identification of classified details and sources {note in original Hebrew}.




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