Illustration: Gaza Disengagement Bedolach (Image Credit: Israel Defense Forces (CC BY-NC 2.0) via flickr)
The recent riots at the Gaza border in the past few months have escalated into armed cross-border attacks intended to hurt as many Israeli soldiers and civilians as possible, and to make headlines in the international media. The latest missile and mortar barrages are a natural evolution of this process.
Hamas has encouraged Gazans to violently riot, using tactics such as burning tires to create smoke, mirrors to blind IDF soldiers, and flying arson-kites into nearby Israeli agricultural fields to set them on fire.
Hamas is getting more clever and creative by the day — anything to make a scene and have the world demonize Israel. They claim they are rioting because they are upset with U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, opening it on the very day that Israel declared its statehood 70 years ago according to the Gregorian calendar.
Israel has told the international community that it is difficult to pinpoint Hamas terrorists because of their use of Gazan civilians as human shields, which is in total violation of international law. Hamas takes its own population hostage, throwing the entire Gazan society into complete chaos and turmoil. Israel rightly rejects Hamas as a partner for peace and expects the world to condemn Hamas as well.
While it is very convenient to condemn Hamas for all the atrocities happening in Gaza, most of Israeli society apparently has forgotten or completely ignored the real culprit in creating this scenario.
Prior to August 2005, Israelis were living in Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip. Even though the Palestinian Authority (PA) was unwilling to make peace, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to prove that Israel was willing to do everything and anything for peace in order to highlight the PA position. His government agreed to voluntarily make unilateral moves that came to be known as the Disengagement, during which approximately 10,000 Israeli Jews were forcibly removed from the Gaza Strip.
This was to officially pave the way for a newly-established Palestinian state, ostensibly to allow the Gazans to develop and create their own society. The idea was that Israel would not have to deal with Gaza and there would be no backlash from the international community. Accordingly Jews were expelled from their homes in Gaza, having their businesses, homes, agriculture, synagogues, and even gravesites completely destroyed and dug up, paving the way for the Arabs to take over. By 2007, Hamas was elected to power.
Since then the Arabs have suffered tremendously under their brutal and harsh dictatorship, while Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers have suffered numerous deaths and casualties at their hands. For the past 13 years, Jews living in the south have repeatedly suffered and sustained over 2,000 injured and 20,000 attacks, including rocket and mortar attacks. The IDF has had six military operations in Gaza including operations Summer Rains, Returning Echo, Pillar of Defense, Cast Lead, Hot Winter, and most recently, Protective Edge.
In the end, who is really at fault in Gaza? The Hamas leadership that came to power by a majority (80%) vote in 2007, or the Israeli ‘right-wing’ government headed by Sharon that willingly paved the way for them to come to power in Gaza by expelling Jews from their homes?
“Without a doubt, from a security perspective, the Disengagement was a mistake,” said former Zionist Union head and opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog. Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel agreed with this assessment, stating, “Today, 11 years later, everyone knows the Disengagement was a pointless mistake which had been pursued out of narrow political considerations.” The late President Shimon Peres was yet another former sponsor of the Disengagement program to admit that its execution — if not the policy itself — was wrong. Long time politician Binyamin Ben-Eliezer had been one of the most prominent political leaders to admit that it should not have been carried out at all.
Keeping the history and the facts in mind, it is not too late to rectify the tragic mistake committed 13 years ago. There is still time to reverse this error, take advantage of the current opportunity, and work to dismantle the entire PA infrastructure, re-conquer the Gaza Strip, and rebuild Jewish communities.