Gaza Withdrawal Resistance
“The disengagement plan is a national mission, the likes of which we have not seen before,” said Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. On February 20, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Mofaz signed the order to evacuate 21 Israeli communities—about 10,000 Jews—in the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank commencing in July.
At the time, the process was projected to take two months. Just weeks later, the plan was reassessed (not for the first time) due to the mountain of resistance expected. The time-frame was cut down to three to four weeks, and 3,000 soldiers were added to the 24,000 security personnel already lined up to take part in the forced evacuation.
Defense officials said accelerating the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza would make it harder for “Jewish extremists” to disrupt the pullout (Associated Press, March 11). Indeed, massive resistance from Israeli settlers, who are bitterly opposed to leaving, has been expected. A poll published by the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahranot indicated that 52 percent of the settlers would try to prevent their evacuation from Gaza—10 percent using physical force if necessary; 42 percent vowing not to leave their homes (Gulf News, March 12).
But it’s not just resistance from their own people the Israelis are worried about. Officials said “Mofaz decided that the withdrawal must be implemented as quickly as possible to avoid Palestinian attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians” (Middle East Newsline, March 15; emphasis ours). Middle East Newsline reported that the Israeli military has been training to withdraw from Gaza and expel its Israeli residents “under heavy Palestinian fire” (March 10). Israeli commanders said that Palestinian insurgency groups “have prepared to launch missile, mortar and rocket strikes on military and police units assigned to remove the Israelis from their homes” (ibid.). It is from Gaza that more than 500 short-range missiles have been fired toward Israeli targets in the past (ibid., March 4).
To be in a position to cope with the security threat, Israel’s national security adviser said the Israeli Defense Forces would likely reoccupy sections of cities within the Gaza Strip prior to the evacuation (Jerusalem Post, March 8). A curfew is expected, and a buffer zone around the settlements may be created to protect against sniper fire and mortar attack.
It is ironic that the very measures Israel is taking in the process of handing territory over to Palestinian control—at the expense of its own security and despite the resistance of thousands of Israeli families—are being used as yet another excuse for Palestinian terrorists to plan attacks. For them, the approach is “all or nothing.” We must face the fact that there is a Palestinian contingent that will be satisfied with nothing less than its end goal: the total destruction of Israel.
For more on where Israeli concessions will lead, see “New Hope in the Peace Process?” in our March-April issue.