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Last week in Israel began with a forgotten anniversary and ended in bloodshed, the indiscriminate murder of at least 8 civilians in a three-pronged terrorist attack near Eilat, followed by an escalation of rocket fire into Israeli population centers, which killed one and injured many more, emanating from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Amdist the chaos, the anniversary in question has understandably been relegated to the status of an afterthought. However, to contextualize the ongoing destruction of Jewish life being perpetrated by terrorist factions in Gaza requires taking a deeper look at the connection between unfolding events and those of years past.
Exactly six years ago last week, Israel’s disengagement from Gaza began.
On the eve of the Disengagement Plan’s implementation, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon addressed the nation: “Citizens of Israel, the day has arrived. We are beginning the most difficult and painful step of all—evacuating our communities from the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria.”
The next morning, some 14,000 IDF soldiers and police officers began the task of forcibly evicting the approximately 4,500 “settlers” and 4,000 activists remaining in Gaza, where clashes broke out between civilians and security forces in what can aptly be described as one of the most traumatic events in modern Jewish history.
But aside from Jews fighting against Jews, the disengagement from Gaza has primarily become defined by the ensuing emergence of Hamas, both politically and militarily.
The story of Hamas’ coming-of-age is well-known. Following Israel’s withdrawal, and largely at the behest of Washington, elections were held in Gaza in 2006. Despite warnings from Israel that elections could empower the then-floundering Hamas, the White House ignored Israel’s allegations. The consequence was the “democratic” election of a terrorist group dedicated to liberating “Palestine” from the “Mediterranean to the Jordan River.”
Following Hamas’ political empowerment came its 2007 civil war waged against another terrorist faction, the Palestinian Authority, leading to the PA’s banishment to the West Bank.
If the PA’s terrorist sympathies were ever in doubt, consider its response to last Thursday’s attack on Israel: in the words of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev, the Palestinian silence was “deafening.”
Once Israel began its retaliatory campaign, however, Palestinian representatives mysteriously regained their powers of speech: First, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat warned Israel against “any irresponsible action” in the Gaza Strip (it is already well-known that the PA considers as irresponsible the dismantling or elimination of terrorist infrastructure, as it has still not satisfied this fundamental criterion of the Oslo Accords). Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, ignoring the slaughter of Israeli civilians, called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss “halting Israeli aggression” on the Gaza Strip. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad issued a statement asserting that Israel’s “rogue behavior must end.” Nimer Hammad, a senior adviser to Abbas, accused Israel of perpetrating “war crimes” against the Palestinians. Mohammed Subh, the PA envoy to the Arab League alleged that “Israel is preparing for war to distract attention from the Palestinian Authority’s plan for September.”
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