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  • Writer's pictureBrian O'Kelly

56 - Battle for Israel - How Did Hamas Grow?


The Israeli disengagement from Gaza (Hebrew: תוכנית ההתנתקות, romanized: Tokhnit HaHitnatkut) was the unilateral dismantling in 2005 of the 21 Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip and the evacuation of Israeli settlers and army from inside the Gaza Strip.

1) proposed in 2003 by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

2) adopted by the government in June 2004

3) and approved by the Knesset in February 2005 as the Disengagement Plan Implementation Law.

4) implemented in August 2005

5) completed in September 2005

6) The settlers who refused to accept government compensation packages and voluntarily vacate their homes prior to the 15 August 2005 deadline were evicted by Israeli security forces over a period of several days

7) The eviction of all residents, demolition of the residential buildings and evacuation of associated security personnel from the Gaza Strip was completed by 12 September 2005

8) The eviction and dismantlement of the four settlements in the northern West Bank was completed ten days later

9) 8,000 Jewish settlers from the 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip were relocated. The settlers received an average of more than US$200,000 in compensation per family.[4]

10) Following the withdrawal, Israel continues to maintain direct control over Gaza's air and maritime space, six of Gaza's seven land crossings, maintains a no-go buffer zone within the territory, controls the Palestinian population registry, and Gaza remains dependent on Israel for its water, electricity, telecommunications, and other utilities.[5][7]

Rationale and development of the policy

1) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's son Gilad wrote that he gave his father the idea of the disengagement

2) Sharon had originally dubbed his unilateral disengagement plan, the "separation plan" before realizing that, "separation sounded bad, particularly in English, because it evoked apartheid."

3) In November 2003 interview, Ehud Olmert, Sharon's deputy leader, who had been “dropping unilateralist hints for two or three months”, explained his developing policy as follows:

a. “ There is no doubt in my mind that very soon the government of Israel is going to have to address the demographic issue with the utmost seriousness and resolve. This issue above all others will dictate the solution that we must adopt. In the absence of a negotiated agreement – and I do not believe in the realistic prospect of an agreement – we need to implement a unilateral alternative... More and more Palestinians are uninterested in a negotiated, two-state solution, because they want to change the essence of the conflict from an Algerian paradigm to a South African one. From a struggle against 'occupation,' in their parlance, to a struggle for one-man-one-vote. That is, of course, a much cleaner struggle, a much more popular struggle – and ultimately a much more powerful one. For us, it would mean the end of the Jewish state... the parameters of a unilateral solution are: To maximize the number of Jews; to minimize the number of Palestinians; not to withdraw to the 1967 border and not to divide Jerusalem... Twenty-three years ago, Moshe Dayan proposed unilateral autonomy. On the same wavelength, we may have to espouse unilateral separation... [it] would inevitably preclude a dialogue with the Palestinians for at least 25 years.

4) Policy was intended to stop the idea of negotiation and to isolate the Arabs outside of Israel because otherwise they would end up taking over Israel. Arabs have many more kids as the Muslim policy of multiple wives mean a single man may often have 10 or more children. While Israeli’s were monogamous and had far fewer children

5) Sharon formally announced the plan in his April 14, 2004 letter to U.S. President George W. Bush, stating that "there exists no Palestinian partner with whom to advance peacefully toward a settlement"

6) In October 2004, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's senior adviser, Dov Weissglass, explained the meaning of Sharon's statement further:

a. “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process, and when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress. That is exactly what happened. You know, the term `peace process' is a bundle of concepts and commitments. The peace process is the establishment of a Palestinian state with all the security risks that entails. The peace process is the evacuation of settlements, it's the return of refugees, it's the partition of Jerusalem. And all that has now been frozen.... what I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns. That is the significance of what we did.

7) Demographic concerns, the maintenance of a Jewish majority in Israeli-controlled areas, played a significant role in the development of the policy.

a. The rationale for the disengagement has been partly attributed to Arnon Soffer’s campaign regarding "the danger the Palestinian womb posed to Israeli democracy." Sharon mentioned the demographic rationale in a public address on August 15, 2005, the day of the disengagement, as follows: "It is no secret that, like many others, I had believed and hoped we could forever hold onto Netzarim and Kfar Darom. But the changing reality in the country, in the region, and the world, required of me a reassessment and change of positions. We cannot hold on to Gaza forever. More than a million Palestinians live there and double their number with each generation."

b. At the same time, Shimon Peres, then Vice Prime Minister, stated in an interview that: “We are disengaging from Gaza because of demography”.

c. Continued control of Gaza was considered to pose an impossible dilemma with respect to Israel's ability to be a Jewish and democratic state in all the territories it controls.

Description of the plan

The agreements brokered, according to Condoleezza Rice, stipulated that,

· For the first time since 1967, Palestinian authorities would have complete control over exits and entrances to their territory.

· That both parties to the agreement, Israel and Palestinians, would upgrade and expand crossings to facilitate the movement of people and goods between Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

· Palestinians would be allowed the use of bus and truck convoys to move between Gaza and the West Bank.

· Obstacles to movement in the West Bank would be lifted.

· A Palestinian seaport was to be constructed on the Gaza littoral.

· A Palestinian airport was considered important by both sides, and the United States was encouraging Israel to entertain the idea that construction to that end was to be resumed.[29]

Because the Palestinian Authority in Gaza did not believe it had sufficient control of the area at this time, observers such as the Human Rights Watch and legal experts have argued that the disengagement will not end Israel's legal responsibility as an occupying power in Gaza. Israel and Egypt have concluded an agreement under which Egypt can increase the number of police on its side of the border, while the IDF evacuates the Gazan side. The text of the agreement is not yet public.

Execution of the plan

1) Crossings were closed

2) Settlers were moved out of Gaza

3) 14,000 Israeli soldiers and police officers forcibly evicted settlers

4) They went house to house, ordering settlers to leave and breaking down the doors of those who did not. There were scenes of troops dragging screaming and sobbing families from houses and synagogues

5) Some settlers lit their homes on fire as they evacuated so as to leave the Palestinians nothing.

6) Residents and their supporters strung up barbed wire fences around the area, and security forces cut their way in

7) Youth placed obstacles made of flammable materials and torched tires and garbage dumpsters. Fires spread to Palestinian areas, and IDF bulldozers were deployed to put them out.

8) On August 19, The Guardian reported that some settlers had their children leave their homes with their hands up, or wearing a Star of David badge, to associate the actions of Israel with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Some protestors said that they would "not go like sheep to the slaughter", a phrase strongly associated with the Holocaust

9) The evacuation of the settlers was completed by August 22, after which demolition crews razed 2,800 houses, community buildings and 26 synagogues

10) The IDF also pulled out its forces in the Gaza Strip, and had withdrawn 95% of its military equipment by September 1.

11) On September 11, a ceremony was held when the last Israeli flag was lowered in the IDF's Gaza Strip divisional headquarters.[49] All remaining IDF forces left the Gaza Strip in the following hours.

12) on September 12 Palestinian crowds entered the settlements waving PLO and Hamas flags, firing gunshots into the air and setting off firecrackers, and chanting slogans. Radicals among them desecrated 4 synagogues. Destroyed homes were ransacked.Hamas leaders held celebratory prayers in Kfar Darom synagogue as mobs continued to ransack and loot synagogues. Palestinian Authority security forces did not intervene, and announced that the synagogues would be destroyed. Less than 24 hours after the withdrawal, Palestinian Authority bulldozers began to demolish the remaining synagogues. Hamas took credit for the withdrawal, and one of their banners read: 'Four years of resistance beat ten years of negotiations.'

Aftermath

1) After Israel's withdrawal, the Palestinians were given control over the Gaza Strip, except for the borders, the airspace and the territorial waters.

2) On September 23, hours after rockets were shot into Israel, a Hamas pickup truck in the Jabaliya refugee camp exploded, killing at least 19 people (both militants and civilians) and injuring 85 people.

3) On September 29, Israel closed all Hamas charities in the West Bank and as part of a five-day offensive fired artillery at targets in the Gaza Strip.

Fatah–Hamas conflict

1) Following the withdrawal, Hamas was elected as the Palestinian government which started the chain reaction leading to Operation "Summer Rains" later within that year.

2) In January 2007, fighting continued between Hamas and Fatah, without any progress towards resolution or reconciliation

3) Fighting spread to several points in the Gaza Strip with both factions attacking each other. In response to constant attacks by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Israel launched an airstrike which destroyed a building used by Hamas. In June 2007 the Fatah–Hamas conflict reached its height and Hamas took control over the Gaza Strip.

Reception

1) Many saw the Palestinian National Authority as an economically uninteresting territory with a Muslim population of nearly 1.4 million, seen as a "threat" to the Jewish identity of the Israeli democratic state.

2) As Leila Shahid, speaker of the PNA in Europe declared, the sole fact of carrying out the plan unilaterally already showed that the plan was only thought of according to the objectives of Israel as viewed by Sharon

3) President George W. Bush endorsed the plan as a positive step towards the road map for peace. At a joint press conference with Ariel Sharon on April 11, 2005 he said:

a. “I strongly support [Prime Minister Sharon's] courageous initiative to disengage from Gaza and part of the West Bank. The Prime Minister is willing to coordinate the implementation of the disengagement plan with the Palestinians. I urge the Palestinian leadership to accept his offer. By working together, Israelis and Palestinians can lay the groundwork for a peaceful transition.”

b. And in his May 26, 2005, joint press conference welcoming Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to the White House, President George W. Bush elaborated:

i. “The imminent Israeli disengagement from Gaza, parts of the West Bank, presents an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a return to the road map.... To help ensure that the Gaza disengagement is a success, the United States will provide to the Palestinian Authority $50 million to be used for new housing and infrastructure projects in the Gaza.

c. On April 11, 2005, President George W. Bush stated:

i. “As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.

d. In his May 26, 2005 joint press conference with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, in the White House Rose Garden, President George W. Bush stated his expectations vis-a-vis the Roadmap Plan as follows:

i. “Any final status agreement must be reached between the two parties, and changes to the 1949 Armistice lines must be mutually agreed to. A viable two-state solution must ensure contiguity of the West Bank, and a state of scattered territories will not work. There must also be meaningful linkages between the West Bank and Gaza. This is the position of the United States today, it will be the position of the United States at the time of final status negotiations.”

4) European Union

a. Javier Solana, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), stated on June 10, 2004:

i. “I welcome the Israeli Prime Minister's proposals for disengagement from Gaza. This represents an opportunity to restart the implementation of the Road Map, as endorsed by the UN Security Council.”

ii. The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen (Ireland having Presidency of the EU at the time), announced the European Union's disapproval of the plan's limited scope in that it does not address withdrawal from the entire West Bank. He said that the EU "will not recognize any change to the pre-1967 borders other than those arrived at by agreement between the parties." However, Europe has given tentative backing to the Disengagement Plan as part of the road map for peace.

b. United Nations

i. Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, commended on August 18, 2005[90] what he called Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's "courageous decision" to carry through with the painful process of disengagement, expressed the hope that "both Palestinians and Israelis will exercise restraint in this challenging period", and "believes that a successful disengagement should be the first step towards a resumption of the peace process, in accordance with the Road Map"

ii. Ibrahim Gambari, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Security Council on August 24, 2005:

1. “ Israel has demonstrated that it has the requisite maturity to do what would be required to achieve lasting peace, and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) has demonstrated their ability to discharge their mission with carefully calibrated restraint. Prime Minister Sharon should be commended for his determination and courage to carry out the disengagement in the face of forceful and strident internal opposition.”

Hamas

1) Means 'Islamic Resistance Movement' is a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist, militant, and nationalist organization.

2) Won Election in 2006

3) Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization. New Zealand and Paraguay have designated only its military wing as a terrorist organization.

4) It is not considered a terrorist organization by Brazil, China, Egypt, Iran, Norway, Qatar, Russia, Syria and Turkey.

5) In December 2018, a resolution to condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization failed to pass the United Nations General Assembly.[g] Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is based in Qatar.

Overview

1) founded in 1987,[h] soon after the First Intifada broke out, as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which in its Gaza branch had previously been nonconfrontational toward Israel and hostile to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Co-founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin said in 1987, and the Hamas Charter affirmed in 1988, that Hamas was founded to liberate Palestine, including modern-day Israel, from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

2) Since 1994, the group has frequently stated that it would accept a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, paid reparations, allowed free elections in the territories[47] and gave Palestinian refugees the right to return.

3) Israel and Hamas have engaged in conflicts of varying intensity

4) Hamas's military wing has launched attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers, often describing them as retaliations, in particular for assassinations of the upper echelon of their leadership

5) Tactics have included suicide bombings and, since 2001, rocket attacks.

6) Human Rights Watch has condemned as war crimes and crimes against humanity both Hamas's and Israel's attacks on civilians during the conflict, stating that the rationale of reprisals is never valid when civilians are targeted.

7) In the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas won a majority in the PNA Parliament,[56] defeating the PLO-affiliated Fatah party. After the elections, the Quartet (the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States) made future foreign assistance to the PNA conditional upon the PNA's commitment to nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements. Hamas rejected those conditions, which led the Quartet to suspend its foreign assistance program and Israel to impose economic sanctions on the Hamas-led administration.

8) Hamas Charter

a. Hamas published its charter in August 1988, wherein it defined itself as a chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood and its desire to establish "an Islamic state throughout Palestine"

b. It contains both antisemitic passages and declares all of Palestine a waqf, an unalienable religious property consisting of land endowed to Muslims in perpetuity by God, with religious coexistence under Islam's rule. The charter rejects a two-state solution, stating that the conflict cannot be resolved "except through jihad".

c. Article 6 states that the movement's aim is to "raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine, for under the wing of Islam followers of all religions can coexist in security and safety where their lives, possessions and rights are concerned". It adds that, "when our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, jihad becomes a duty binding on all Muslims",for which the whole of the land is non-negotiable

d. For Hamas, to concede territory is seen as equivalent to renouncing Islam itself.

e. The violent language against all Jews in the original Hamas charter is antisemitic and has been characterized by some as genocidal.

f. In May 2017, Hamas unveiled its new charter, in an attempt to moderate its image. The charter no longer calls for Israel's destruction, but still calls for liberation of Palestine and to 'confront the Zionist project'.

Finances and funding

1) Hamas leaders' statements indicated that they read George H. W. Bush's outline of a New World Order as embodying a tacit aim to destroy Islam, and that therefore funding should focus on enhancing the Islamic roots of Palestinian society and promoting jihad

2) About half of Hamas's funding came from states in the Persian Gulf down to the mid 2000s. Saudi Arabia supplied half of the Hamas budget of $50 million in the early 2000s, but, under U.S. pressure, began cut its funding by cracking down on Islamic charities and private donor transfers to Hamas in 2004,[82] which by 2006 drastically reduced the flow of money from that area.

3) Iran stepped in to fill the Gap.

Military wing

1) The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades is Hamas's military wing.

2) While the number of members is known only to the Brigades leadership, Israel estimates the Brigades have a core of several hundred members who receive military style training, including training in Iran and in Syria (before the Syrian Civil War).

3) Additionally, the brigades have an estimated 10,000–17,000 operatives, forming a backup force whenever circumstances call for reinforcements for the Brigade. Recruitment training lasts for two years. The group's ideology outlines its aim as the liberation of Palestine and the restoration of Palestinian rights under the dispensations set forth in the Qur'an, and this translates into three policy priorities:

a. To evoke the spirit of Jihad (Resistance) among Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims

b. to defend Palestinians and their land against the Zionist occupation and its manifestations

c. to liberate Palestinians and their land that was usurped by the Zionist occupation forces and settlers.

4) According to its official stipulations, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades' military operations are to be restricted to operating only inside Palestine, engaging with Israeli soldiers, and in exercising the right of self-defense against armed settlers. They are to avoid civilian targets, to respect the enemy's humanity by refraining from mutilation, defacement or excessive killing, and to avoid targeting Westerners either in the occupied zones or beyond.

5) Use Human Shields and operate military installations in hospitals and schools

6) Use Children as combatants

7) Employ Suicide bombings and attacks on Civilians.

Media

1) Al-Aqsa TV is a television channel founded by Hamas. The station began broadcasting in the Gaza Strip on January 9, 2006,[126][127] less than three weeks before the Palestinian legislative elections. It has shown television programs, including some children's television, which deliver anti-semitic messages.

2) Hamas has stated that the television station is "an independent media institution that often does not express the views of the Palestinian government headed by Ismail Haniyeh or of the Hamas movement," and that Hamas does not hold anti-semitic views.

3) The programming includes ideologically tinged children's shows, news talk, and religiously inspired entertainment. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the station promotes terrorist activity and incites hatred of Jews and Israelis.

2006 presidential and legislative elections

1) Hamas decided to participate in the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, the first to take place after the death of Yassir Arafat.

2) The EU figured prominently in the proposal that democratic elections be held in the territories

3) In the run-up to the polling day, the US administration's Condoleezza Rice, Israel's Tzipi Livni and British Prime Minister Tony Blair all expressed reservations about allowing Hamas to compete in a democratic process.

4) Hamas ran on a platform of clean government, a thorough overhaul of the corrupt administrative system, and the issue of rampant lawlessness. The PA was riddled with graft and corruption

5) The evacuation gave currency to Hamas' view that resistance had compelled Israel to leave Gaza.

6) Muhammed Deif attributed "the Liberation of Gaza" to his comrades "love of martyrdom".

7) Hamas won 76 seats, excluding four won by independents supporting Hamas, and Fatah only 43.

8) The election was judged by international observers to have been "competitive and genuinely democratic". The EU said that they had been run better than elections in some members countries of the union, and promised to maintain its financial support.

9) Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates urged the US to give Hamas a chance, and that it was inadvisable to punish Palestinians for their choice.

10) Three months later, The EU froze financial assistance to the Hamas-led government, following the example set by the US and Canada. It undertook to instead channel funds directly to people and projects, and pay salaries only to Fatah members, employed or otherwise.

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