Photo: Attila Somfalvi
Neve Dekalim evacuation will require enormous amounts of forces, Shelah says
Photo: Attila Somfalvi

The only thing that’s certain is the end

IDF may be in for a few surprises during disengagement

The tiny settlement of Shalev, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, won’t be in the news all that much in the coming days. The eleven families that live there will be evacuated, against their will, but also without resistance, on the day the soldiers and police arrive to take them out.


But the officers and sergeants who make up the evacuation unit under Gen. (Res.) David Suissa who came to Shalev today had a little surprise in store for them: instead of one gun handed over, as their intelligence sheet told them there would be, they were given no less than 10.


This story is just one little part of the whole big story of the disengagement, but it does place some measure of doubt about the readiness and preparation of the army and the police. The army insisted today their predictions that about half of the families in Gush Katif will be evacuated by Wednesday are still on target. With all of their caution, it isn’t clear that their certainty is warranted.


Gen. Suissa, in normal times a senior artillery officer in the northern command, has been given one of the toughest tasks of the disengagement: He had to pass out all of the evacuation orders in Neve Dekalim. Throughout this day, he more than any other officer spent more time speaking with different leaders of the largest and most complicated settlement in the Gaza Strip.


Stalingrad of the pullout


I accompanied him for several hours today, and I can honestly say that he carried out his work with wisdom and skill. But those qualities are actually the ones that led him to the conclusion that what awaits him in the evacuation of Neve Dekalim is going to be vastly different, more complicated and difficult than what the army projected it would be like when planning for it.


Most of the confrontation, he expects, will not be in the houses but rather in the streets. Throughout the day, his men met up with ranks of quick-footed disengagement dissenters, who swiftly moved to places where soldiers were trying to enter the settlement and formed instant lines of blockades. True, the soldiers did not use the force the evacuating forces will use against similar resistance. But Suissa reckons that during the actual evacuation, security forces will not only have to deal with those who have barricaded themselves inside their homes, but also with attempts to physically seal off roads in the settlements as well.


The amount of people involved will be in the thousands - maybe five thousand. True, this afternoon several moving containers were brought in to Neve Dekalim at the behest of the few families who did want to pack up. But it’s still unclear which if any of them will actually be leaving by Wednesday.


Waiting on a miracle


It’s also true that there are many “reinforcements” there, as even IDF officers have come to call them: Meaning young teenagers who are not residents of Gush Katif and who have nothing to lose during the evacuation. They aren’t from the same group, they aren’t tight-knit, and they aren’t controllable or influenced by anyone in particular as in NetZarim for example. And they are determined to turn Neve Dekalim in to the Stalingrad of the pullout.


Not that anyone has any doubts that the withdrawal will take place in the end. The first day of disengagement passed with a relatively small amount of violence and vandalism—mostly spikes on the road. The behavior of the vast majority of the settlers evoked sympathy and respect from the security forces that met up with them. And there were no real signs of soldiers refusing to carry out orders.


So the obvious conclusions then are: The IDF doesn’t know everything and is not ready for everything. There may yet be some surprises waiting for them. Neve Dekalim will require enormous amounts of forces and will be a determining factor in the decisions made in terms of the order and pace of the evacuation.


But if there are those among the residents of the Strip that are still waiting for that miracle to save them and stop all this, there don’t seem to have been any signs of it today on the first day of the disengagement. 


פרסום ראשון: 08.16.05, 02:25
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