Photo: Atilla Somfalvi
Military and police training for evacuation
Photo: Atilla Somfalvi
Illusion shattered
Myth of settlers' organizational capabilities proven false

The first day of the forced evacuation made two things clear. The fast pace of the evacuation relies on the fortitude of the operational forces, especially when they decide to work together, while on the other hand, the false nature of the illusion nurtured consciously by Gush Katif leadership of an organized, powerful resistance.


Despite admissions by officers on the ground that lessons taught during the long training period do not necessarily apply to the reality in the Gaza Strip, Security forces came prepared.  


Once again the sheer power, scary at times, of orders and formidability of unit members' bonds were displayed: Young soldiers and police officers were able to withstand the tremendous mental strain and offer each other support.


For now, the police are the big winners. For the military, the pullout is a significant operation, but not an exceptional one. For the police, mobilizing 10,000 officers in coordination with the military and other civilian forces is an unprecedented logistical operation.


That's why Police Chief Moshe Karadi and the majority of the police’s senior command are present on the ground.


Settlers want someone to tell their story


So far the result is impressive: Police officers have acted with professionalism, restraint, and a high level of contro, far from the picture drawn by the Or Commission (which investigated the October 2000 riots where 13 Arab-Israelis were killed by police) - although in this instance police had ample time to prepare and enlist forces.


On the other hand, the truth behind the myth of the settlers' tremendous organizational capacities and might was exposed. Urban legends about surfers coming from the sea and "veterans of elite combat units assimilated among settlers” (to quote former Prime Minister Barak) were proven baseless.


Indeed, residents in Gush Katif - as well as the thousands of infiltrators – are mostly disorganized and experiencing great pain they find difficult to express, and overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness and isolation.


Journalists and reporters in Gush Katif in the last couple of days all share the same sense: The settlers are yearnings to have someone tell their painful story of disillusionment. Yearning and despair might lead individuals to desperate actions.


Yet they are not enough to organize a resistance that will thwart the evacuation.


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