Our basic right to this land does not emanate from a security imperative. We believe that the “land of Israel for the people of Israel” is a historical truth rooted in the enduring heritage of the Jewish people. The State of Israel is the actualization of thousands of years of exile, of reciting: “Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem.” We are uniquely privileged to be the generation that is fulfilling that Jewish yearning.
At the same time, we invariably and repeatedly discover that safeguarding the heartland territory that Israel liberated in a war we were forced to fight is the only guarantee of security for all the residents of Israel. Today, it is evident to all that Israel’s insistence on holding onto the Golan Heights prevented extremist Islamists of ISIS and other organizations from gaining control over this strategic territory, thus eliminating a major threat to the region.
Until the Oslo Accords and the IDF’s withdrawal from the Arab cities in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip, even in the most difficult times during the First Intifada, terrorist attacks took the lives of at most 10-20 Israelis a year. Although nothing was too heinous for the terror organizations in their efforts to carry out their murderous plans, they didn’t always have the means or possibility to do so. The years following the Oslo Accords and the withdrawal of the IDF from the Arab population centers, together with the transfer of tens of thousands of weapons to the Palestinian Authority, saw the growing buildup of the terrorist organizations’ military strength in terms of the amount and quality of their arms.
Sadly, since then, the number of Israelis murdered in terror attacks each year has risen to 50-70. After Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered PA leader Arafat an Israeli withdrawal from almost all of Judea and Samaria in the summer of 2000, Arafat launched the Second Intifada, in which more than 1,500 Israelis were murdered, with a record number in 2002, with 425 Israelis murdered in terror attacks that year.
The turning point came only after Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, when Israel restored its security and intelligence control of the Arab cities and population centers.
Although it may seem as if it has always been with us, mortar and rocket fire from the Gaza Strip began only in 2001, gradually becoming one of the greatest threats to Israel posed by terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. These organizations consider mortar and rocket fire a simple and easily accessible response to the IDF’s military superiority. They use it to disrupt the lives of the civilian population of large parts of the State of Israel, harming its fabric of life, as if to present Israel with a deterrence equation. They learned this from Hezbollah, Iran’s ballistic threat and even Saddam Hussein’s strategy in the Gulf War.
Rocket fire should not be measured only in terms of the number of casualties wounded or killed and the economic damage caused. While every single person is an entire world and we feel pain at every Israeli that is hurt, the State of Israel must look at the ongoing rocket fire and the number of rocket-alert sirens in terms of their cumulative psychological impact and the damage caused to the national morale, which comes with a weakened sense of security. That is why it is important to look at the number of rockets and mortars fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip that have activated alarms, rather than just at the number of casualties.
Over the years, we have seen the consequences of irresponsible political steps on the part of Israeli governments that have included withdrawals and concessions for Israel’s national security, and especially for its citizens’ sense of security. The same is true for the uprooting of Israel’s communities in Gush Katif and the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
Recently, in an effort to defend the disengagement, some have claimed that Gazans were firing mortars and rockets at Israel even before Israel withdrew from Gaza. While this is indeed the case, it in no way provides proof to justify the serious mistake of fleeing from Gaza. As noted above, the amount of rocket fire has a major impact on national security.
According to Israel’s General Security Service, Israel has seen a dramatic increase in mortar and rocket fire from Gaza since 2005. The table presented here shows the increase in the amount of rocket fire from 2001, when four mortars were fired at Israel, to 2004, when 281 mortars were fired. However, in 2005, the number of rockets and mortars soared to 1,225, in 2006 to 2,807, in 2008 to 3,716. In 2009, following Operation Cast Lead, the number of rockets and mortars fell to “only” 858. The peak number of rockets and mortars fired came in 2014 together with Operation Protective Edge, when terrorists fired 4,500 mortars and rockets at Israel.
The graph shown here clearly demonstrates the terrorist organizations’ growing strength in terms of rocket fire at Israel starting in 2005, when Israel abandoned the Gaza Strip, and the subsequent drop in the number of rockets following each military campaign and security takeover of the Gaza strip or parts of it.
In contrast, Israel continues to maintain security and intelligence control over Judea and Samaria. Hard as they have tried, terror organizations in Judea and Samaria have failed to develop and manufacture a rocket threat to Israel. If achieved, God forbid, such a threat would allow terrorists to fire directly and from a dominating height provided by Israel’s central mountains at the entire territory of the State of Israel.
Our Israeli communities here in Judea and Samaria together with the daily life of half a million Jewish citizens are what provide the ethical and moral justification for a continued military presence in the Jewish homeland in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley. That is how the pioneering settlement enterprise in the land of our ancestors also safeguards all of Israel’s national security and the resilience of Israel’s citizens.