The Traumas of Yamit and Gush Katif

Could it be that the disengagement plan was nothing but a preventative act to thwart negotiations with the Palestinians side?

Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar

In his book, "Yamit - Over and Out," Hagai Segal says that "the dread of civil war" was what deterred Yitzhak Rabin even from "uprooting" the seven Jewish families from Tel Rumeida in reaction to the massacre in the Cave of the Patriarchs. The "rehabilitated" underground prisoner attributed the dread to the "collective memory" of cages, bulldozers, blinding foam and the houses of Yamit that had been destroyed 12 years before Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 worshipers in a Hebron mosque. Nearly 12 years passed until Ariel Sharon instructed that the dust be removed from the cages, and sent the bulldozers to destroy the Gush Katif homes. The "trauma" of Yamit has died. Long live the "trauma" of Gush Katif.

The manipulative use of "civil war" has long served both opponents and supporters of the settlements. The former are truly and innocently concerned about a "split in the nation," and the latter use it to deepen the occupation. Indeed, Rabin retracted his decision to evacuate Tel Rumeida under the threat of the Yesha Council of settlements to bring in tens of thousands of right-wing activists to protest against the Israel Defense Forces soldiers in Hebron.

Sharon has been on both sides: As an oppositionist he was with those who threatened to "set the country on fire" if the government dared touch their redeemers. He remained on the side of those who threatened - even during times in which he, as a member of the government, contributed more than any other politician to establishing new outposts and expanding existing settlements.

The disengagement plan was added to the trauma department from the moment it saw the light of day. For example, there's the explanation Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz made to attorney Talia Sasson, regarding the failure of the non-evacuation of the illegal outposts. In a letter sent at the beginning of the year, Mofaz wrote: "Until now, the atmosphere in the West Bank and Gaza Strip regarding the disengagement and all it involves has required - according to the prime minister and the defense minister, who have discussed the issue - a particularly careful examination of the timing of evacuating unauthorized outposts."

And that wasn't the only excuse. Mofaz said the evacuation of outposts involved "extensive preparation on the part of the IDF and Israel Police, including transferring forces from essential security activities in the West Bank and Gaza, halting activity against hostile entities, and confining many forces to the task of evacuation. Naturally, it's difficult during certain periods to implement such confinement for extended periods of time."

Sasson wrote that "with all due respect," the minister's explanation does not set the mind at ease, since the outpost phenomenon has been taking place in front of our eyes for many years.

However, just as the disengagement has refuted the false prophecies about a civil war, it has also disproved the claim that the IDF and police don't have the power to evacuate the outposts.

The true explanation for the flourishing of the settlements in general and the outposts in particular appears in the "unspoken command" chapter in the report on outposts. Soldiers, police officers and Disengagement Administration officials don't need to be visionaries to understand in which direction the wind is blowing when the state hooks up stolen caravans to the water and electricity grids, and when IDF officers settle with their families on the private land of Palestinian villages. And all this has gone on despite the decision that has already been made to evacuate illegal outposts, such as Migron. The politicians are deterred by the threats of the settlers - and since then the outpost has been flourishing.

Sasson quotes a senior commander who described the "unspoken command" in these words: "The settlers are carrying out a Zionist act, so you shouldn't look at them through the legal prism." Last week the spirit of the "unspoken command" was particularly stormy. Sometimes, at the sight of a weeping mother leaving a nice house, there was somehow a spirit of good will among the settlers. Other times, at the sight of hilltop hooligans spilling turpentine on a soldier, an evil spirit overtook them.

What will remain of all this in the collective memory? It depends on the unspoken command - of Ariel Sharon. Did he intend to do nothing but renew the "trauma of Yamit" to keep the tumultuous winds of the West at bay? Could it be that the disengagement plan was nothing but a preventative act to thwart negotiations with the Palestinians side? Will the "trauma of Gush Katif" perpetuate the standing of the settlers as the lords of the land?



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


נתניהו עם כיפה שחורה על הראש נשען בשתי ידיו על הכותל

Israel Is Heading for Its Most 'Jewish' Election Ever

An El Al jet sits on the tarmac at John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, Thursday, in 2003.

El Al to Stop Flying to Toronto, Warsaw and Brussels

FILE PHOTO: A Star of David hangs from a fence outside the dormant landmark Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood in 2021.

American Judaism Is in Decline. That's Great News for American Jews

Crowds at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, in April.

U.S. Official: West Bank Entry for Palestinian Americans Unrelated to Israeli Visa Waivers

Haaretz spoke with several people who said they had fled Ukraine, arrived in Israel,  and were asked to undergo DNA tests in order to establish paternity.

'My Jewish Grandmother Has a Number on Her Arm, Why Does Israel Greet Me This Way?'

People taking part in the annual "March of the Living" to commemorate the Holocaust, between the former death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, four years ago.

It’s Not Just the Holocaust. Israel Is Failing to Teach the History of the Jews