IDF soldiers remove a family from their home during the Disengagement. (Nati Shohat /Flash90)
Disengagement Gaza

“What did we think we would accomplish with this foolishness, which went against all diplomatic, security, moral and Zionist logic?” Edelstein asked about Israel’s disengagement from Gaza.

By: United with Israel Staff

The Knesset on Tuesday held a conference to mark 13 years since Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip, an event that required thousands of Israelis to be forcibly removed from their homes by Ariel Sharon’s government.

Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein assailed the move and pointless destruction, which only brought more tribulations to the Jewish state.

“How will we explain to the next generations that, instead of strengthening the foundations of the home, we destroyed the home? Why, instead of helping the settlers who made the sandy lands of Gush Katif blossom, did we uproot them? What did we think we would accomplish with this foolishness, which went against all diplomatic, security, moral and Zionist logic?” Edelstein asked.

“I did not have the answers 13 years ago, I do not have the answers today, and I will not have any in the future either,” he added.

During the 2005 unilateral disengagement from Gaza, Israel evicted a bloc of 17 communities in the Strip and four communities in northern Samaria. The move, in which 8,600 Israelis lost their homes, remains highly controversial to this day, as it is directly linked to increased Palestinian terrorism and rocket fire emanating from Gaza.

“The Disengagement Plan will forever be remembered in Israel’s history as an expression of a government’s whim; of cynical use of democracy, and cold-heartedness to the point of absurdity,” Edelstein told the conference, themed “70 Years of the Heroic Chain – From 1948 to Today.”

Disengagement remains perceived by many as undemocratic and in contravention of the concerted democratic efforts to counter the decision.

Edelstein stressed that “despite the injustice that was done to those who were expelled, we must remain united,” adding that “there is one line connecting those who fought at Bab al-wad [the road to Jerusalem in 1948] and those who fought terrorists at Kissufim [in Gaza]; between those who planted in Degania [in the north] and those who planted in Gadid [in Gaza]. The Disengagement plan, as foolish and devastating as it was, should not unravel even one of the threads that compose this line.”

We Will Remember, We Will Return

Agriculture Minister MK Uri Ariel declared at the conference, “We will remember and we will return.”

“It took 2,000 years for the Israeli nation to return to its homeland. It took the children of Kfar Etzion 19 years to return [in 1967] after [Jews] were banished from there in 1948. But the legacy of Gush Katif will give us the strength to surge forward. We will remember and we will return,” he stated.

Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog said that he has come with “one main message: the People of Israel love each other and are responsible for one another. We will overcome these challenges, together and with unity.”

The Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee on Tuesday held a session on the absorption of Gush Katif evacuees in local communities, and revealed that 160 of the families that were evacuated still do not have permanent homes.

Assaf Yitzhaki, director of the Agriculture Ministry’s Settlement Division, informed the committee that 132 of the families are expected to move into permanent homes within a year, while the remaining 28 families cannot afford their own homes. These families were given the option of living in temporary housing units on the plots allotted to them, or paying NIS 1,500 to live in 100 square meter “industrial structures.” The temporary housing units were offered for free.

MK Haim Jelin said the state ”did not understand the importance of the emotional aspect of the disengagement – changing workplaces, changing the daily routine. Habits and daily routine – these are resilience and health. This was destabilized for these people. In addition, they sacrificed something, and no one acknowledged it. They built Gush Katif, and then were uprooted, and no one sympathized with them.”

MK Bezalel Smotrich, acting chairman of the Internal Affairs Committee, called on the education, agriculture and economy ministries to “give a big push” in order to resolve the matter.

“The state is to blame, and it bears the responsibility,” he stated. “In no way is any settler guilty. He had realized dreams before the State evacuated him.”

A ‘Grave Mistake’

In June, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yair Naveh, who commanded the IDF’s withdrawal from northern Samaria in 2005, declared that Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Israeli communities in northern Samaria in 2005 was a “grave mistake.”

Naveh said that reality has proven the move has failed to give Israel any security or diplomatic advantage.

“There’s no doubt that we weren’t able to create any sort of security advantage, neither in Gaza nor in Samaria,” Naveh said in the interview with Israel Hayom. “If the disengagement from Gaza contributed anything to history, it did so by proving that terrorism has nothing to do with the settlement enterprise, and by proving that an eviction of this nature cannot be carried out in such a way again.”

“There was no advantage to this eviction. None. Zero. Nothing has changed for the better there. It had no added value to security or to anything else. It was a frustrating event that left a feeling that it was all for nothing,” Naveh said.

Naveh is now supporting the return to some of the four abandoned communities in Samaria.

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