Last updated on: 6/26/2008 11:07:00 AM PST

What Was the 2005 Gaza Withdrawal?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Right-wing Israeli settlers and their supporters clash with Israeli police and security forces
during the August 2005 Gaza withdrawal, as seen here at the Neve Dekalim Settlement

Palestinians, carrying the green
Islamic flags of Hamas, celebrating the Israeli withdrawal
atop the now demolished synagogue of the Netzarim Settlement

Mohammed Samhouri, PhD, Senior Research Fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, made the following description of the Gaza withdrawal and its historical significance in his Nov. 2006 Crown Center for Middle East Studies article "Gaza Economic Predicament One Year After Disengagement: What Went Wrong?"

“[T]he Israeli government evacuated 8,000 Jewish settlers form the Gaza Strip, dismantled 21 settlements, and, in the early morning hours of September 12, 2005, ended its 38-year-long military presence in Gaza.”

Nov. 2006 - Mohammed Samhouri, PhD 

Ariel Sharon, former Israeli Prime Minister, stated on Aug. 15, 2005, in a public address to the people of Israel concerning the disengagement from the occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza:

"The day has arrived. We are beginning the most difficult and painful step of all - evacuating our communities from the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria.

It is no secret that I like many others, believed and hoped that we could forever hold on to Netzarim and Kfar Darom. However, the changing reality in this country, in this region, and in the world, required another reassessment and changing of positions.

Gaza cannot be held onto forever. Over one million Palestinians live there, and they double their numbers with every generation. They live in incredibly cramped refugee camps, in poverty and squalor, in hotbeds of ever-increasing hatred, with no hope whatsoever on the horizon.

The unilateral Disengagement Plan, which I announced approximately two years ago, is the Israeli answer to this reality. This Plan is good for Israel in any future scenario. We are reducing the day-to-day friction and its victims on both sides. The Israeli Defense Forces will redeploy on defensive lines behind the Security Fence. Those who continue to fight us will meet the full force of the IDF and the security forces.

I initiated the Plan because I concluded that this action is vital for Israel."

Aug. 15, 2005 - Ariel Sharon 

The Cable News Network (CNN) published the article "Israel's Withdrawl, Settlement By Settlement," on Aug. 22, 2005. The article contained the following timeline of the 2005 Gaza Withdrawal:

"August 14:

At the stroke of midnight (5 p.m. ET), Israel officially begins its historic pullout from Gaza by informing thousands of Jewish settlers they have 48 hours to leave Gaza and the northern West Bank voluntarily, or be removed by force.

August 15

Thousands of Israeli soldiers begin distributing eviction notices in the 25 settlements that must be evacuated under the current 'disengagement plan.' The scenes are emotional and heated at times. In Morag, some soldiers are called 'Nazis' as they deliver eviction notices. In Neve Dekalim, protesters -- most of them settlement nonresidents -- block Israeli troops and police from entering.

August 17

Israeli troops enter Gaza settlements after the expiration of a 48-hour grace period for residents to leave. Any settlers or protesters who remain in the 21 Gaza and four West Bank settlements may be removed by force. Israel has committed 55,000 soldiers and 8,000 police to the effort. According to Israeli officials, soldiers who refuse to carry through would face court-martial.

August 18

Israeli troops enter the Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom in Gaza to continue forced evacuations that, authorities say, are about 70 percent complete. On the second day of forced removal, Israeli troops encounter stiffer resistance than at the start of the operation.

August 22

Soldiers and police clear out Netzarim, the last of the 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza."

Aug. 22, 2005 - CNN (Cable News Network) 

The 2004 Revised Disengagement Plan, passed on June 6, 2004 by the Israeli Cabinet, contained the following points:

"The State of Israel has come to the conclusion that there is currently no reliable Palestinian partner with which it can make progress in a two-sided peace process. Accordingly, it has developed a plan of revised disengagement (hereinafter - the plan), based on the following considerations:

The purpose of the plan is to lead to a better security, political, economic and demographic situation.

In any future permanent status arrangement, there will be no Israeli towns and villages in the Gaza Strip. On the other hand, it is clear that in the West Bank, there are areas which will be part of the State of Israel, including major Israeli population centers, cities, towns and villages, security areas and other places of special interest to Israel.

Relocation from the Gaza Strip and from an area in Northern Samaria should reduce friction with the Palestinian population.

The State of Israel will evacuate the Gaza Strip, including all existing Israeli towns and villages, and will redeploy outside the Strip. This will not include military deployment in the area of the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt ('the Philadelphi Route') as detailed below.

Upon completion of this process, there shall no longer be any permanent presence of Israeli security forces in the areas of Gaza Strip territory which have been evacuated.

The State of Israel will evacuate an area in Northern Samaria (Ganim, Kadim, Sa-Nur and Homesh), and all military installations in this area, and will redeploy outside the vacated area.

Upon completion of this process, there shall no longer be any permanent presence of Israeli security forces in this area.

The State of Israel will guard and monitor the external land perimeter of the Gaza Strip, will continue to maintain exclusive authority in Gaza air space, and will continue to exercise security activity in the sea off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

The goal is that implementation of the plan will lead to improving the situation and breaking the current deadlock."

June 6, 2004 Revised Disengagement Plan (Full Text)

Human Rights Watch, an international human rights advocacy organization, published in Jan. 2005 the following description of the Gaza Withdrawal in its "World Report 2005":

"The Israeli Cabinet adopted Prime Minister Sharon's Gaza 'disengagement' plan on June 6, 2004, and the full Knesset gave its approval on October 26.

The plan calls for the withdrawal of Jewish settlers and the redeployment of Israeli troops to posts on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza, while Israel will retain control of Gaza's borders, coastline, and airspace. Israel is reserving the right to launch incursions into Gaza, and will continue to control Gaza's economy and trade, telecommunications, water, electricity, and sewage networks.

The plan explicitly envisions the demolition of hundreds more homes along the Gaza-Egypt border in order to expand the buffer zone there.

The plan states that the disengagement 'will serve to dispel the claims regarding Israel's responsibility for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.'

In fact, under international humanitarian law, the steps envisioned will not end Israel's occupation of the territory, and Israel will retain responsibility for the welfare of Gaza's civilian population."

Jan. 2005 - Human Rights Watch (HRW)