A moment before the evacuation of communities in the Gaza Strip, friends of mine, Dov and Rachel Kol, decided to pay a farewell visit to family members living in the Ganei Tal settlement. We labeled Dov as a "moderate leftist," while Rachel belonged to the "right-wing" camp. This did not affect the heart-rending harmony of their relationship.
On Saturday evening, July 24, 2005, at around midnight, on their way back to Jerusalem, they were fired on by Palestinian terrorists and were killed in their car. Dov was in favor of the pullout from Gaza, while Rachel stood by her relatives in Ganei Tal and protested the decision made by the Ariel Sharon government.
Now, as we are about to mark a decade since the disengagement, I suggest that we deal with the facts which preceded the decision to turn our back on the Strip, and leave behind the myths – not to mention the lies – which have developed and are supporting the lessons that interested parties wish to instill.
The claim: We evacuated Gaza and what did we get in return? Thousands of rockets fired at Israel from the state of Hamastan. The conclusion is that every land we evacuate in the future will immediately turn into a terror base, and so we won't evacuate a single millimeter of Judea and Samaria lands in the future.
The facts: Thousands of mortar shells were fired at the Gaza communities from 2000 to 2005, and nearly 150 Israelis were killed in terror attacks in the Strip. Whoever argues that Gush Katif was heaven until the disengagement is wrong and misleading. Palestinian terror has to do with the desire to remove the Israeli entity from all the lands occupied in 1967, and among many organizations the goal is to annihilate the Zionist entity everywhere.
And if you will, there is also a demagogic argument in response to the claim that the Strip's evacuation inflicted strategic damage on Israel. In the past six years, Israel has been ruled by right-wing governments which have been expressing harsh criticism against the disengagement from Gaza, although most of their members voted in favor of it.
And if I may take this demagogy further, these government members should be asked why they didn’t instruct the IDF to reoccupy the Strip and resettle the thousands of "expelled" residents there? Why did the Benjamin Netanyahu governments settle for building memorial sites and museums and paying the evacuees billions of shekels?
The claim: The unilateral withdrawal from the Strip turned out to be disastrous, because Israel cannot require the Palestinian leadership to uphold an agreement which was actually never signed.
The facts: The decision on the disengagement was made in light of the recognition that agreements signed with the Palestinians, led by the Oslo Agreements, were not worth the paper they were signed on. Sharon decided that the State of Israel would take its fate in its own hands and, as part of this framework, would "shorten the border with the Palestinians" and hand the Strip over to them. The real problem has to do with the fact that the governments which came after Sharon's departure did not respond as expected in light of the increasing rocket terror from Gaza, and avoided making decisions about a long-term arrangement with the group which took over Gaza – Hamas.
The claim: The army should not have been involved in the evacuation. In case of another evacuation in the future, the task should be given to the police.
The facts: Since the IDF's establishment, the State's leaders have integrated the army in all issues related to national matters, including immigrant absorption, education and fortifying the borders by settling the land (the Nahal groups). In the future as well, if the government decides to evacuate communities from the West Bank as part of an agreement approved by the Knesset, the army will be recruited to evacuate the settlers. Just like what happened in the disengagement, all the horrific scenarios about orders being disobeyed and a popular uprising will be revealed as nonsense.
In essence, the only question directed at the decision makers as we mark 10 years since the disengagement is what alternative do they propose.
The murderous terror attack over the weekend, which left a young Israeli man killed near the Samaria community of Dolev, and the fact that the Hamas organization in the Strip claimed responsibility for the attack, obligates the Netanyahu government to present a comprehensive alternative for a solution and for regulating our relationship with the millions of Palestinians living around us. There is no escape.