After the war, Israel must truly disengage from Gaza

Israeli reservists exiting the Gaza Strip in December 2023

Since World War II, there has never been a more justified military campaign against barbarism than Israel’s war on Hamas and Palestinian terror in the Gaza Strip.

The only just action Israel could take in response to such a crimes against humanity  was to enter Gaza with a massive and protracted military response aimed at crippling Hamas’s military capabilities and its ability to administer the Gaza Strip in any future scenario.

This is a war Israel did not seek. This is a war Israel tried to avoid. It was wrong in doing so, and the consequences proved catastrophic.

It’s now clear to the majority of Israelis that a preemptive campaign against Hamas rule in Gaza was a necessity instead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failed policy of containment and the attempt to strengthen Hamas by weakening the Palestinian Authority while using billions of dollars in Qatari-sponsored cash to appease the terror organization.

Had Israel understood that Hamas’s true intentions were neither to govern nor improve Palestinian conditions in Gaza but rather to declare all out war on Israel, many lives on both sides of the fence could have been saved.

Therefore, the military campaign must continue until all remaining hostages in Gaza are released and until Hamas no longer has the capacity to administer the coastal enclave and threaten Israel militarily.

Once these goals are achieved, Israel must completely disengage from Gaza and its Palestinian population. True disengagement, not the 2005 one-sided version whereby Israel evacuated both its civilian population and military personnel yet remained responsible for key administrative aspects of Gazan life.

True disengagement means total and complete disengagement. No administrative responsibility falling on Israel’s shoulders. No border crossings, no goods transferred through Israel, no Palestinian day laborers entering Israel from Gaza, no water or electricity supplied by Israel – nothing. It’s time for both Israel and the world to understand that the previous administrative arrangement, whereby Israel is partially responsible for Gaza, must come to an end.

In retrospect, withdrawing from the Gaza Strip in 2005 proved to be a fatal mistake.  The attempt to improve Israel’s national security through a quasi-disengagement only proved to be more detrimental to the country’s security.

And while there are those advocating for a combination of resettlement and de-facto military administration, the economic ramifications – roughly 6 billion USD yearly – would put a tremendous strain on the Israeli economy. Furthermore, 5 IDF divisions would be required to secure and administer the enclave on a permanent basis which would stretch Israel’s already small military to its limit – especially at a time when government officials are pursuing a draft law that would provide thousands of young Jewish men with a legal justification to evade their military service.

At the same time, Israel must guarantee its right to act militarily in Gaza in order to preemptively counter all emerging security threats, similar to the way it operates in Area A of Judea and Samaria.

In terms of the day-to-day administration, there is no reason why the Egyptian port at Al Arish and the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt cannot serve as the primary entry point for everything entering Gaza – from gasoline and water to all other imported goods. No more Ashdod, no more Kerem Shalom.

Egypt will certainly dismiss such a plan publicly.

However, behind closed doors and with creative and calculated diplomacy which includes the United States, European nations and the Arab League, plenty of monetary and diplomatically attractive incentives could sway the Egyptians in the right direction. It would also be a victory for the majority of Sunni Arab states in their struggle against the Muslim Brotherhood and its financial conduits Qatar and Turkey. Undoubtedly, it would be a major blow to Iran as well.

Unfortunately, Israel’s current leadership has taken a strictly black and white approach to the ‘day-after’ question –  either those advocating for complete administration and resettlement of Gaza or those advocating for a return of the Palestinian Authority in one capacity or another. As we know, the Palestinian Authority’s control over Gaza after the disengagement turned out to be a complete failure that led to a brutal Palestinian civil war and Hamas’s eventual control of the Gaza Strip.

Currently, Israel Beytenu chairman and former Defense Minister, Avigdor Liberman, is the only Israel leader advocating for such an approach. On one hand, Liberman was an opponent of the 2005 disengagement from Gaza; on the other hand, Liberman realizes that Israel cannot rewind the clock and must embark on a more concrete and pragmatic approach to the situation that will simultaneously ensure the country’s security and extract it from the misconceptions that brought about the October 7th massacre.

Gaza can no longer be solely Israel’s responsibility. Anyone who wants to see meaningful change in the region must endorse this new discourse.

Total Israeli disengagement from Gaza is the only option for better security and prosperity for all parties involved.

About the Author
Stephen Rubin is a tour guide, lecturer and freelance writer whose works have been published both in Israel and abroad. He has worked as a communications and political advisor in the Knesset and has served in the Gaza Strip as a reservist during Operation Iron Swords
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