May 20, 2024
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This week, the State of Israel had an anniversary of sorts and it was by no means a celebratory event. There was no excitement, as there is with Yom Ha’Atzmaut, when we commemorate the occasion of Israel’s birth as a nation in 1948. There was no exultation, as there is on Yom Yerushalayim, when we remember the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. In fact, many people failed to note that there was a date on the calendar that was worth remem­bering.

This week marked the ninth anniversa­ry of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. In July 2005, then-Prime Minister Ari­el Sharon put into motion one of the most dark and disturbing chapters in Israel’s his­tory when he ordered the August expulsion of approximately 9,000 Jews from Gaza. En­tire communities were uprooted, over 2,500 homes were destroyed, and countless fami­lies were displaced.

The disturbing images of Jews forcibly removing their fellow Jews from their homes left an indelible mark on the psyche of the Jewish Nation. Watching men and women, young and old, weep as they were escort­ed from their homes was especially painful, and seeing children forced to leave the only home they had ever known was absolutely heart-wrenching.

We watched with horror as Jewish res­idents who refused to leave clashed with Jewish soldiers tasked with evicting them. As the residents barricaded themselves in­side synagogues and climbed atop the roofs of their homes in acts of defiance, we shud­dered and wondered how the situation spi­raled out of control so quickly.

Ultimately, every single Jewish resident was evacuated from Gaza, and shortly there­after the IDF completely withdrew from the area, thereby ceding control of Gaza to the Palestinians.

Following the expulsion from Gaza, the situation for the former residents worsened considerably. The financial compensation promised by the Israeli government never fully materialized. People were relocated to temporary domiciles. The unemployment rate among the residents skyrocketed. The sociological ramifications of the Israeli with­drawal from Gaza were quite dire.

The political consequences, as we know, were calamitous. Although Prime Minister Sharon believed the unilateral withdraw­al from Gaza would improve Israel’s security and burnish its reputation in the internation­al community, his dream never materialized. He had suffered a stroke before the with­drawl and it was carried out by Ehud Olm­ert, his deputy.

Hamas took control of Gaza and quick­ly turned it into a hotbed of terrorism and turmoil. What had been vibrant bastions of Jewish life morphed into the main com­mand center for Hamas’ jihad against Israel.

Over the past several weeks, more than 3,300 rockets were fired from Gaza by Ha­mas terrorists. Those are in addition to the over 11,000 rockets that have been fired at Israel from Gaza since the withdrawal in 2005.

Prior to Operation Protective Edge, Isra­el was forced to embark on Operation Pil­lar of Defense in 2012 in response to re­lentless rocket fire from Gaza. In 2008, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in an effort to impair Hamas’ ability to launch rockets at Is­raeli cities.

I recognize that hindsight is 20/20, and at this juncture it is easy to ascertain that the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security. The fact that over 5 million Israelis live under a constant threat of rocket attacks emanat­ing from Gaza is a stark and scary reminder of how vulnerable Israel has become after it chose to vacate Gaza. Now we must look to the future and ask, what happens next?

Over the past several weeks we wit­nessed the increased firepower that Hamas has amassed, including long-range rockets that can strike Israeli cities—which until now had been considered out of harm’s way. We saw the callous disregard that Hamas has for human life and the intense hatred it harbors towards Israel.

Israel’s military strikes may have dam­aged Hamas, but they did not destroy Ha­mas. As such, the rockets will likely con­tinue flying towards Israel, and Hamas’ never-ending attempts to carry out acts of terror against Israel will endure.

The challenge Israel faces is how to deal with an entity intent on destroying it. Hamas rules Gaza with an iron fist and will not easily relinquish control. What Israel must do is de­sign a containment mechanism to neutralize Hamas. A cease fire may be a temporary fix, but based on Hamas’ track record, it is by no means a permanent solution. Devising ways to halt funding to Hamas and engaging in an effort to marginalize Hamas from the rest of the world may be start.

As we mark the ninth anniversary of the expulsion from Gaza, we remember and em­pathize with the families that were driven from their homes; we also remember the many people who have lost their lives as a direct result of Hamas being handed the keys to Gaza on a silver platter. For Israel, this is a not-so-happy anniversary.

N. Aaron Troodler is an attorney and principal of Paul Revere Public Relations, a public relations and political consulting firm. Visit him on the Web at TroodlersTake. blogspot.com, www.PaulReverePR.com, or www.Jew­ishWorldPR.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @ troodler

By N. Aaron Troodler, Esq.

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