Myths of pullout and terror
Contrary to the belief of part of the left wing, pulling out of territories does not put an end to terror in the short term. Contrary to the right wing's belief, neither does the use of force.
Here are a number of "truisms" that should be refuted: "The pullout has increased the terror in the Gaza Strip." Wrong. Since the pullout, the number of terror incidents and casualties has been reduced considerably. What remains is the Qassam rocket fire. These rockets were launched before the pullout, together with mortars (that reached Gush Katif settlements but not Sderot). All the fatalities caused by the Qassam rockets occurred before the pullout.
"The pullout from the Gaza Strip was based on the belief that the terror would cease." Wrong. The pullout was intended to alleviate the security burden (which has been alleviated, because it is no longer necessary to protect the Gush Katif settlements) and enable Israel to react harshly to ongoing terror acts (as we are doing now in Operation Summer Rains, without evoking serious international protest).
"The pullout may not have led to increased terror incidents, but they have become more serious, as in the case of Gilad Shalit's kidnapping." Wring again. Serious attacks were launched at Israel Defense Forces positions before the pullout too. In any case, at least statistically, it is not true that the pullout has been conducive to terror.
"Evacuating the settlers from Gush Katif made it easier to carry out terror attacks." Wrong. Gush Katif was located west of the densely populated Arab areas in Gaza and was not a buffer between them and Israel.
"The IDF's evacuation from Gaza made it easier to carry out terror attacks." Wrong again. First, the number of terror incidents has declined. Second, the IDF was not positioned inside the densely populated Arab areas but around the fence, and this is exactly where it is today. The only exception is the evacuation of the Nissanit/Dugit area in the northwest of the Strip (which shortened the Palestinians' range to Ashkelon by a few hundred meters). This mistake can be swiftly corrected.
What pullout lessons are relevant to Olmert's plan regarding the West Bank?
Contrary to the belief of part of the left wing, pulling out of territories does not put an end to terror in the short term. Contrary to the right wing's belief, neither does the use of force. Terror is the Arab sector's main tactic in its struggle against the Jewish community in the Land of Israel since the 1920s, and we should not delude ourself that it will stop by itself. For almost 100 years, we have tried everything, from using force to far reaching concessions; yet the terror persists.
The only thing that has short-term influence on the level of terror (not so much on the attempt to carry it out but on its outcome) is the IDF and defense establishment's activities. A deployment that would ease this activity would reduce the terror incidents, and a pullout that would hinder it would lead to increased terror.
Is there any deployment at all that could alleviate the security burden on the one hand, yet preserve the achievements of the war on terror on the other hand? The answer is yes. Convergence into large Jewish settlement blocs, while leaving a military presence in the evacuated territories. The IDF will leave these territories only when someone on the Palestinian side takes quashing the terror organizations seriously. In this way, the IDF will have more security resources at its disposal and there will not be a feeling that terror was "rewarded." In the short term, a military presence in the areas from which Israeli citizens were evacuated would reduce terror. In the long term, it should pressure the Palestinians into abandoning the path of violence.
The writer, a reserve major general, is head of the Security Studies program at Tel Aviv University.
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