15 years after the Israeli government, headed by Ariel Sharon, “disengaged” from the Gaza Strip, many Israelis who were expelled from their homes have not found a new home and peace.
In the summer of 2005, the State of Israel left the Gaza Strip and the north of Samaria while expelling some 10,000 Israelis who lived there.
Town by town, IDF bulldozers went from building to building and leveled them.
Prior to the destruction, the residents and their supporters from across Israel resisted the forced evacuation. Each community chose to display its protest of the destruction in a different manner.
Prior to the destruction, the government promised that it was providing a comprehensive resettlement and compensation package to those who had lost their homes and that the communities would be able to reestablish themselves.
However, the truth was far from this, and 15 years later, many of those who were expelled from their homes have not found a new home or employment.
On July 30, 2008, the State Audit Committee decided to establish a state commission of inquiry to examine the treatment of the Gush Katif evacuees. The committee was headed by former Supreme Court Justice Eliyahu Matza.
Two years later, in June 2010, the State Commission of Inquiry into the Disengagement issued a scathing report against the Israeli government, stating that “the government has failed in a way that is difficult to exaggerate in its severity.”
The commission ruled that the state had failed to deal with the evacuees and that there was a large gap between the state’s rhetoric and its actions on the ground.
It defined the evacuees as “citizens whom the state itself made refugees in their homeland.”
Prof. Yedidya Stern, a member of the Commission, said that “the disengagement caused the greatest violation of human rights in the history of the State of Israel.”
The commission called for the end of their rehabilitation by 2011.
However, in July 2012, seven years after the forced evacuation, only 35% of Gush Katif evacuees entered permanent homes, the unemployment rate among the displaced was 14%, and 50 farmers out of 400 were still waiting for a solution to their loss of agricultural land.
Four years after the Commission called for an end to the process of the evacuees’ rehabilitation, many cases remain open.
A report from July 2020 compiled by the Gush Katif Center shows that many are still living in temporary structures and dozens of claims against the state have yet to be settled.
At the Nitzan site, 32 families still live in small and temporary structures, 11 of them still have no solution while others are still building their permanent homes.
At Neve Yam, 15 families are living without any solution in sight.
The Eligibility Committee is still deliberating two claims, and the Special Committee is still facing 33 claims.
Several public institutions that the state committed itself to build are still under construction.
1,667 families lived in Gush Katif. 1,405 of them, 85%, continue to live together with their original communities.
The so-called Disengagement remains highly controversial to this day, as it is directly linked to increased Hamas terrorism and rocket fire emanating from the Gaza Strip under its control.
In June 2018, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yair Naveh, who commanded the IDF’s withdrawal from northern Samaria in 2005, declared that Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Israeli communities in northern Samaria in 2005 was a “grave mistake.”
Naveh said that reality has proven the move has failed to give Israel any security or diplomatic advantage.
“There’s no doubt that we weren’t able to create any sort of security advantage, neither in Gaza nor in Samaria,” Naveh said in the interview with Israel Hayom. “If the disengagement from Gaza contributed anything to history, it did so by proving that terrorism has nothing to do with the settlement enterprise, and by proving that an eviction of this nature cannot be carried out in such a way again.”
“There was no advantage to this eviction. None. Zero. Nothing has changed for the better there. It had no added value to security or to anything else. It was a frustrating event that left a feeling that it was all for nothing,” Naveh said.
Naveh is now supporting the return to some of the four abandoned communities in Samaria.