As of mid-2005, there were approximately 8,500 Jews living in Israeli settlements located in the Gaza Strip and under almost constant attack from the 1.3 million Palestinians surrounding them. These 8,500 law-abiding Jews were productive citizens who had created a horticulture industry that employed 12,000 Palestinians and accounted for 10% of the entire gross national product of Gaza. But in an effort to forge a peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbors, Israel decided to try a “land-for-peace” approach — dismantling all its Gaza settlements and forcibly relocating their inhabitants. This relocation process — involving the uprooting of some 1,700 Jewish families in 21 communities at a cost of nearly $900 million — was completed on September 12, 2005.
But rather than eliciting a peaceful Arab response, this withdrawal sparked a renewed wave of Arab violence and terrorism led by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. As the last Israeli Defense Forces personnel left Gaza, the Palestinians began torching the synagogues Israel had abandoned; they blew up the Egypt-Gaza border wall and immediately began transferring unprecedented quantities of heavy weaponry into Gaza. The day after the withdrawal was complete, tens of thousands of armed Hamas terrorists, clad in new uniforms, goose-stepped through the streets of Gaza in a victory parade. Hamas’s pageantry was followed by the jihadist group’s decisive electoral victory over its rival, Fatah, in January 2006.
It is noteworthy that just prior to the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, a philanthropic Jew in the United States, Mortimer Zuckerman, the publisher of U.S. News and World Report, had collected $14 million from American Jews to buy the 3,000 greenhouses and all the plumbing that had gone into the Gaza horticulture industry which the region’s Jews had created. He then gave it to the Palestinians, at no cost, as a gesture of peace. On the day that Hamas took control of Gaza, the Palestinians destroyed all the greenhouses and plumbing, and began firing thousands of rockets into unarmed towns and schoolyards in Israel.
Between September 2005 and July 2006, Hamas terrorists fired at least 800 Qassam rockets from Gaza into southern Israeli cities and villages, vowing to turn them into “ghost town[s]” and ultimately precipitating an Israeli military response — Operation Cast Lead — in 2008/09.
– Adapted from “Why Israel Is the Victim” (by 2013).
Why Israel Is the Victim
Gaza Fact Sheet
By Jewish Virtual Library
August 2, 2005
Israel’s Disengagement from Gaza
By Carol Migdalovitz
Septrmber 16, 2005
Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza Explained
By Jefferson Morely
August 10, 2005
Ignoring Failure in Gaza
By Caroline B. Glick
August 11, 2008