On January 4, 2006, Sharon was whisked away in an ambulance to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem after feeling ill on his farm in the south. At the hospital, he underwent surgery and doctors tried to stop the bleeding in his brain. Ever since, the former prime minister has been hospitalized in a coma at Sheba Hospital at Tel Hashomer.
Ariel Sharon and Yisrael Maimon in a cabinet meeting (Photo: Flash 90)
Eyal Arad, one of Sharon's close advisors, said to Ynet on the connection between the dates, "I don't believe in the irony of history; we are looking for connections, but they're not there. We aren't going back to Gaza, just like how in Operation Defensive Shield we didn't return to Hebron. Sharon intended to leave Gaza once and for all, but the Disengagement wasn't a contract with God – that everything you do will hold forever. If they shoot at as, are we going to turn the other way and say that they're not?"
Arad, who was one of the Kadima election campaign leaders, believes three and a half years after the Disengagement that the move was justified.
Sharon at Migdal Ha'emek. September 1, 2005 (Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom, Inc.)
"Today, after the Disengagement, we can say to the world that we've had it up to here and that we need to take care of these fascist bullies. I see the Arab spokesmen screaming 'Occupation! Occupation!' and the media looking at them without understanding – what occupation are you talking about? Look at the EU's response – it's something that is almost incomprehensible in terms of the past few years. The world has understood that this really is serious; Israel is truly ready to stop the occupation and dismantle the settlements and isn't even looking for something in return," Arad explained.
Yisrael Maimon, Sharon's cabinet secretary, is ready to duel anyone who claims that the Disengagement brought about a worsening of Israel's situation.
"They fired Qassams at us much before that, and I can only imagine what kind of situation we'd be in if 7,000 Israelis were currently in Gaza under a Hamas government. Arik saw years ahead of his time. There is no doubt that Israel's capability to handle what is happening in the Strip is better because of him, both in operationally, tactically and politically with the rest of the world."
Sharon's advisor, Dov Weisglass, refuses to see any connection between the former prime minister and the recent operation in the Gaza Strip.
"Hamas took over Gaza because of the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and would have done so with the Disengagement or without it. Sharon hoped that we would successfully establish co-existence, and, unfortunately, this didn't happen. So the military is acting the way it should. We can only be happy that amidst all this mess, there aren't any Israeli settlements," explained Weisglass.
Weisglass believes that the Disengagement was a good decision. "Thanks to Sharon, we said goodbye to that cursed land forever, and what is happening there now is the best evidence that we shouldn't be there. To our good fortune, no leader is saying that he wants to stay in Gaza. On the contrary – everyone is competing how clearly he can say that he has no intention of returning to Gaza."