Gaza Disengagement

Also known as the Pull Out, the Withdrawal, the Evacuation, and "HaHitnatkut" in Hebrew. It refers to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal of all 21 Jewish Israeli settlements that were in the Gaza Strip and a removal of the Israeli army’s permanent presence from Gaza (and from four settlements in a small section of the Northern West Bank) in August-September of 2005. The plan generated immense controversy in Israel, and was considered unforgivable treason by the settlement community, especially since its main proponent, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, had been a chief advocate for and implementer of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967. Many settlers engaged in passive (and some active) resistance, but an immense Israeli army presence allowed the disengagement to proceed smoothly. In total, some 8,000 settlers were evacuated from Gaza as part of the plan. Despite Palestinian offers, Israel refused to coordinate the withdrawal officially with the Palestinian Authority, though some informal coordination did take place. Israel currently maintains control over Gaza’s air space, land borders (aside from the 12 kilometer border between Gaza and Egypt) and coastline. Israel points out that Palestinians are continuing attacks despite the withdrawal, while Palestinians argue that Israeli control of Gaza’s borders means the disengagement cannot be considered a true withdrawal, especially given Israel’s Gaza blockade. Under international law, Israel remains the occupying power. See "Israel: ‘Disengagement’ Will Not End Gaza Occupation," Human Rights Watch, Oct 29, 2004. For a text of the Knesset’s April 2004 declaration outlining the plan, see "Disengagement Plan of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon."

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