Friday, October 25

IDF Abandons Greater Gaza

For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have 

borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify 

himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But 

it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine 

acquaintance.Psalms 55:12-13


"Gaza Envelope"+ refers to the area controlled by the Israeli Administration and within 7km from the Gaza Strip; Greater Gaza is a better name for it. Israel has 57 settlements there, most of themkibbutzim and moshavim. There are two prominent exceptions, the town of Sderot which became internationally famous during the 2012Operation Pillar of Cloud and Havat HaShikmim, the Sycamore Farm, taken by Ariel Sharon.
Following Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, the area became accessible to Palestinian retaliations from Gaza. In 2007, the Knesset approved the "2007 Assistance Law of Sderot and the Western Negev (Temporary)," which defined settlements in the Gaza Envelope as "Confrontation-line Communities" and gave them privileges.
Palestinian Victim of Operation Cast Lead, 2009
Palestinian Victim of Operation Cast Lead, 2009
From Camp David to Cast Lead
In August 2011, the Eshkol Regional Council, within the Gaza Envelope, petitioned* the Supreme Court to order the government to deploy antimissiles in the Gaza Envelope, specifically in settlements located between 4.5 and seven kilometers from Gaza. The houses in the area were equipped with government-funded rocket-roof protection. It was the first case in which the IDF acknowledged that its antimissiles cannot meet the politicians' promises; in the recently announced redeployment and reorganization of the IDF,++ these weapons have been downgraded.
The petition did not help the settlers. By the end of 2013, there are not any antimissiles deployed in the area. Simply, they are not efficient and cost too much.** Instead, Israel deployed soldiers within the civilian settlements. If a settlement is hit, there is an immediate response force that can help in the first minutes.

IDF as the Settlers' Enemy
Not knowing what was about to happen, in June 2013, I downloaded an article and carefully stored it in my library. The topic was secondary at the time, but it had a nice image of Alumim (which opens this article) in the winter. Settlers in Gaza Envelope complained in the article "the IDF abandoned us." Several minor events reported by them made them sound like spoiled children asking for more candy. "Yes, we want 5 antimissiles batteries, 50 war-planes, 500 tanks, and 5,000 fighters."
The following month, the IDF threw a bombshell, though nobody linked it to Gaza Envelope. The IDF announced massive changes in its mode of operation and deployment,++ including a roughly 10% cut in its budget. New anti-missile batteries won't be built in the numbers announced in previous years. Obsolete weapons will be removed. The last event in the list of changes was published today; the expensive settlements' protection plan in the Gaza Envelope has been scrapped.
The three heads of the Councils and Municipality in the area, Alon Shoster, Haim Yalin and Yair Farjun, gave a press conference and shouted murder. "The IDF made an error, it is blind and detached from reality. The decision of the Ministry of Defense, and the unilateral exit of the soldiers from the settlements hit the strength of the population and creates a feeling of contempt and lack of interest toward the settlers."
Yalin, Head of the Eshkol Regional Council, claimed that this is especially serious in the days when the until now peaceful border with Egypt is getting violent. "The decision opposes the values of Zionism and settlement." This is not true. I grew up in a central Zionist settlement, a kibbutz in the Jordan Valley, and can give a very clear testimony. Zionists teach no values.
Yet, the settlers are correct in their assessment of the Ministry of Defense actions, unless Israel is planning a tactical ease on the brutal strangling of Gaza by allowing it to expand into the Gaza Envelope, creating a Greater Gaza.

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