Oded Tira
Oded TiraArutz Sheva

Brigadier General Oded Tira, commander of the eviction of Yamit 's residents and former president of the Manufacturers' Association, reminisces about the trying times of the eviction, forty years ago, in a special interview with Israel National News - Arutz Sheva.

"Emotions were running high because it was the first time any nation had evicted its own people. Other nations had happened many times in the past but never had a nation evicted itself. That was what made it so traumatizing," Tira explains.

He mentions that, "Many people in Yamit were leftists. Suddenly, instead of the usual messages about expanding the land of Israel and pushing its borders outwards, they were faced with a peace agreement the scope of which they could not judge. As commander of the operation, I found myself firmly backed by the media, but forced into confronting family and friends. I took it very hard."

Tira tells that he tried to emotionally disengage from the situation. "My mental defense apparatus said, 'I have my orders, and I must uphold democracy and carry out the order of the political echelon.' I thought about the issue from a technical point of view and less from my personal angle. When we thought about what to do, we decided to try and evict the residents without injuring anyone. We behaved like boxers - when a boxer is in trouble, he hugs himself and waits for a better opportunity. We likewise withdrew into ourselves as the eviction commenced."

"I spoke with many of the opponents of the withdrawal, such as Daniela Weiss, Tzachi Hanegbi and the late Rabbi Waldman. It was a struggle between two sides but at least with the leaders it was clear that even if we are on opposing sides, we still appreciate one another," he adds.

Years later, Tira was called to assist in a dialogue with the population of Netzarim ahead of the eviction from Gush Katif. "In Gush Katif, four officers volunteered to come and try to move the operation along as smoothly as possible. Ran Packer and I were in charge of Netzarim, which was considered the hardest nut to crack. We got there and tried to persuade and talk and eventually the entire place left relatively smoothly."

However, while the Egyptian border it is relatively quiet, the evacuation of Gush Katif was perceived by him as a strategic failure. "The results were immediate. After a few months we saw the upheaval, that Fatah was blown out of the Gaza Strip and we were left facing an entity that is a semi-state and they violate the unwritten agreement all the time and do not pay a price. The price they pay is one they are willing to bear. They are willing to fight, to sacrifice people and property and they will continue to do so."

Asked if Israeli statesmen have exhausted the idea of evictions, he says, "I think people have woken up to the realities of evictions. The idea that kindness is reciprocated is naive and no longer suitable in our world."