Monday, November 26, 2012

The writing was on the disengagement wall

The writing was on the disengagement wall

Yossi Fuchs

During the years before the unilateral Gaza disengagement in 2005, Gush Katif residents were used as a security buffer between the Gaza Strip and residents of southern Israel. Thousands of mortar shells and Qassam rockets were fired at settlements blocs in Gaza while only a trickle of missiles fell on communities in Israel near the Gaza border. When then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to carry out the disengagement plan, he argued that the plan would lead to a better security situation, though he gave no clear reason as to how and why.

In a discussion of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee about the evacuation-compensation plan, Col. (res.) Itamar Ya’ar, deputy head of the National Security Council for Defense Policy and its coordinator of national security assessment, defended the defense establishment, saying that withdrawal from Gush Katif would not necessarily bring peace to the area, but would certainly be a tremendous financial and resource saving for the Israel Defense Forces and the other forces required in Gaza to protect Israel settlements there.

At the time, we wondered why a more senior representative of the defense establishment, such as the chief of general staff, the head of the Israel Security Agency or head of the National Security Committee, was not sent to this critical discussion. The answer turned out to be very simple. The heads of the defense establishment, particularly former Chief of General Staff Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon, opposed the disengagement and thought it would dramatically worsen the security situation.

Following the Knesset's approval of the disengagement law, I filed a petition to the High Court of Justice on behalf of the Gaza Coast Regional Council and the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, arguing that the disengagement violated the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, in part because it did not spell out appropriate intentions. To the petition was attached the opinion of Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, now head of the NSC in the Netanyahu government.

Amidror accurately predicted the results of the withdrawal. He said: "The IDF's exit from Gaza brings with it real potential for a worsening of the security situation, not just because it will expand the field of range for Palestinian-held rockets ... the Palestinians will be able to direct their full potential at the settlements on the eastern side of the Green Line; suffering will be the fate of many communities further in [to Israel] and not just in Sederot ... Israel will not be able to withstand the political pressure that will mount and we will build a Hamas and Hezbollah state right on the edge of Ashkelon, with the rocket range reaching Ad Halom junction [just south of Ashdod] ... no detailed analysis would be required here if the law were being truthful: that Israel, for unclear reasons, decided to gamble with the safety of residents west of northern Samaria and around the Gaza Strip and give up its ability to protect them, transferring that responsibility to the Palestinians ..."

Justice Edmond Levy, who was in the minority in the court decision and the only one who did not bury his head in the sand, referred to the fact that the state did not produce even a single expert to back its claim that the disengagement would lead to better security. This was in stark contrast to the opposition, which presented a clear opinion: "The disengagement involves far-reaching dangers that render it lacking in appropriate purpose."

Today it is obvious to everyone that those opposed to the disengagement were right. It has been seven years since the withdrawal from Gaza and, now that missiles have flown toward Tel Aviv, it is important to mention what caused this and who warned of it. The disengagement from Gaza had clear implications, which we must recall to avoid any future mention of a withdrawal plan from Judea and Samaria.