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Disengage

In 2005, an event widely known as “The Disengagement” transpired. The follies of this operation are well known, and have been discussed in depth elsewhere.

The Hebrew word for the plan is התנתקות – separation, disconnection. Yet, in spite of two protracted military operations, and thousands of still homeless Israelis that were the result of this horrendous error, Israel is still very much connected to that tiny piece of land. There was no “disengagement,” only withdrawal of residents and permanent military facilities.

The world over has accused Israel of collective punishing Gazans by blockading the territory and closing the crossings. In essence, a siege. If only that were true – that would actually mean Israel had disengaged, and Gaza would deal with with the world through its Egyptian border. Instead, the world is calling for Israel to remain engaged with Gaza.  As analyst Guy Bechor wrote four years ago:

this disengagement is for the sa[k]e of engagement: “crossings” will be opened between Israel and Gaza that will give passage for workers into Israel, the electricity and water companies have already announced that they will continue to provide Gaza and northern Samaria with services as usual even after disengagement.

There is no disengagement, but rather intensive engagement, and not on Israel’s terms. In the same piece from August 2005, Bechor hits the nail on the head: “they control the territory and also continue to milk Israel. In contrast, in its folly, Israel will both lose its settlements in Gaza and also continue to provide for the Palestinians there.”

Israel must decide. This messy, ill-defined situation is only playing into the hands of her enemies. The first option is to return to Gaza, which is not likely to happen anytime soon, nor am I convinced that it is a wise policy decision. The second is to disconnect completely. By truly disengaging Israel will finally shed all responsibility for the “humanitarian crisis” that has been at Gaza’s doorstep for years. No more gas, food, medicine, water, electricity, or money – remove all pretense and “let them fend for themselves or with their great Arab sister Egypt.”

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4 Comments

  1. Nobody says:

    There was indeed a disengagement from Gaza. It took place in the mid 1990s when the IDF pulled out of Gaza City and the other densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip.

    What happened in 2005 was an expulsion, plain and simple; it had everything to do with Jews and nothing to do with Arabs. “Disengagement 2005″ was public relations spin brought to you by Dov Weisglass.

  2. Vicki says:

    Completely agree with you that Israel has not disengaged. But why do Israeli companies continue to control everything still, as you have said? Is it pressure from the State? Or is it simply profitable for them to continue to keep doing so? As soon as we stop providing them with gas, water, etc, and let Hamas or whomever control their own borders, we will no longer be accused of humanitarian abuses. Lasseiz-faire, and let the Gazan Palestinians build their own internal structure. Will be more beneficial for Israel as well-less money in security protecting their borders and more protecting Israel’s.

  3. LB says:

    NG – that was withdrawal – Israel was, and still is, very much engaged with the Gaza Strip. Of course it was an expulsion in 2005, and for the reasons you mention – but even after that, there is a business relationship between Gaza and Israeli firms.

    Vicki – some companies have been compelled to do so, by the state. Banks, for example, as well as oil/gas companies. I am no sure what the banks want to do, but the oil/gas companies would be very happy to stop doing business with Gaza – they do not get paid on time, if at all (in which case the payment comes from withheld customs fees – as the whole area is still one customs region, which Israeli customs oversee). In fact, I believe it was Dor Alon, that wanted to stop supplying Gaza with fuel until outstanding debts were paid, but were forbidden from doing so. Water, food, etc. generally comes from NGOs (usually UNRWA, WHO, and ICRC), and Israel just controls the flow of their trucks.

    While it would be nice if “we [would] no longer be accused of humanitarian abuses,” I am skeptical that would actually happen. It should eliminate the basis for these accusations, yet it is very similar to the argument made in favor of withdrawing from Lebanon in 2000, and 9 years later we’ve had 3 kidnapped (and killed) soldiers, and a horrifically managed war. And Israel is still to blame, of course.

  4. Jack says:

    I don’t believe that Israel can do much of anything here, at least from a world opinion standpoint. They won’t accept the need for defensive measures and will do nothing but provide lip service stating otherwise, or explaining why it is Israel’s fault that the situation exists.

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