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Fact Sheet: The Smokescreen of the Gaza Disengagement

An International Solidarity Movement Fact sheet

With the deluge of coverage about Israel’s “disengagement” from Gaza, it’s easy to be lulled into the idea that the “road map” to peace in the region is moving ahead and that the occupation is nearing some sort of conclusion. It’s important to keep in mind the information offered in this fact sheet.

Gaza Disengagement Intended to Freeze Peace Process: According to an October, 2004 Ha’aretz Daily interview with Dov Weisglass, senior advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, “the significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process…. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda ….All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.” (1)

Gaza Will Still Be Occupied: Israel has not yet agreed to allow Palestinians to control Gaza’s border with Egypt, to allow movement of goods and people between Gaza and the West Bank, or to allow Palestinians to control Gaza’s air and sea space. Unless Israel agrees to Palestinian cede control to Palestinians in these areas, multiple sources (including the International Committee of the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem, Hamoked, and departments of the Israeli government) concur that Gaza will still be legally identified as a place under Israeli military occupation. (2)

Israel’s Gaza Plans Do Not Meet Even the United States’ Minimum Expectations: Israel’s plan to “disengage” from the Gaza Strip does not meet even the minimum expectations articulated by the United States. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated, “when the Israelis withdraw from Gaza it cannot be sealed or [an] isolated area, with the Palestinian people closed in after that withdrawal. We are committed to connectivity between Gaza and the West Bank, and we are committed to openness and freedom of movement for the Palestinian people.” (3)

Israel Asks the U.S. for Additional $2.2 Billion for Disengagement: On top of the $3 billion in aid that the United States gives annually to Israel, the Israeli government is asking for an additional $2.2 billion over three years to help pay for the Gaza Disengagement. 2/3rds of that amount may be used to develop the Galilee and the Negev for relocated Jewish settlers, further dislocating Israel’s Palestinian citizens living in those regions (Washington Post). (4)

All Israeli Settlements Violate International Law: All Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are considered violations of international law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem (Israeli), the International Court of Justice, the United Nations and almost all governments in the world. Though Israel deceptively labels some settlements “legal” and others “illegal outposts”, all Israeli settlements and outposts are illegal under international law. (5)

420,000 Illegal Israeli Settlers Remain in West Bank: Only 9,000 Israeli settlers are being withdrawn from illegal Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip and from four illegal settlements in the West Bank. Approximately 420,000 Israeli settlers remain in illegal settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (The New York Times and multiple sources). (6)

Rapid West Bank Settlement Expansion and Wall Construction Continues: The expansion of illegal Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank continues at a rapid pace, particularly in areas that Israel plans to annex on the west side of the Wall and in the four major settlement blocks (multiple sources). During the period that Israel has been talking about destroying 2,000 settler homes in the Gaza Strip, it has been building more than 6,400 settler homes in the occupied West Bank (Ali Abunimah on Democracy Now) (7). Continued construction of Israel’s Wall on Palestinian land is annexing Palestinian land to Israel in Bil’in and tens of other West Bank villages.

Israeli Settlements Take Strategic Land: In Gaza and the West Bank, Israeli settlements are typically built in water rich, strategic locations that facilitate Israeli control of resources and land, and divide up Palestinian territory into discontinuous areas (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions). (8)

Israeli Settlers Killed Eight Palestinians During Last two Weeks: Two Israeli settlers shot and killed eight Palestinians with no provocation during the last two weeks. Despite these murders by Israelis, and a lack of Palestinian violence, the international media has continued to focus primarily on the possibility of “Palestinian violence” during the disengagement.

Israel Uprooted 800,000 Palestinian Refugees from Their Homes in 1948 and 1967: Israel and the international media are dramatizing the evacuation of 9,000 Israelis from illegal settlements in Gaza where they have lived for no more than thirty years. Israel forced 737,000 Palestinians to flee their ancestral homes in Palestine in 1948, and an additional 69,000 Palestinians to feel their homes in 1967. The Israeli government continues to fail to take responsibility for this massive dispossession, and to grant Palestinian refugees their right of return as guaranteed by international law (Al Awda). (9)

Israel Controls One Third of Gaza: Approximately 9,000 settlers and the Israeli military have controlled 33 percent of the tiny, overcrowded Gaza Strip, while 1.3 million Palestinians, most of them refugees or offspring of refugees, were packed into the remaining 67 percent of the Gaza Strip (The New York Times, 8/18/2005). (10)

Israel Impoverished Gaza: Each square mile of Palestinian land in Gaza holds, on average, about 14,000 Palestinians. Unemployment among Palestinians is estimated at 45 percent, and most Gaza families live on less than $2 a day (The New York Times, 8/18/2005) (11). Because of its past policies, Israel is responsible for the current situation in Gaza (One Big Prison: B’Tselem and Hamoked). (12)

Israeli Settlers Receive Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Compensation: During the disengagement, each Israeli settler family was eligible for compensation of $300,000 to $500,000 from the Israeli government for leaving homes on illegal settlements in the West Bank or Gaza Strip (Christian Science Monitor 8/12/2005 and multiple sources). (13)

Israeli Settlers Have Received Years of Government Subsidies: Israeli settlers benefit from multiple government subsidies for rent, water, electricity, agriculture, etc. (B’Tselem). (14)

Homes of 30,000 Palestinians Demolished by Israel in Gaza with No Compensation: While only 9,000 settlers will leave their homes in Gaza and four settlements in the West Bank, the Israeli army destroyed the homes of 30,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip alone over the last four years, many of them in refugee camps, many bordering on Israeli settlements. Palestinians receive no compensation from the Israeli government for demolished homes. (Danny Rubinstein in Ha’aretz Daily). (15)

Israelis Pack, Palestinians Leave Homes with 15 Minutes Notice: Special Israeli army units helped Israeli settlers in Gaza to pack up their belongings as they left their homes. The Israeli army typically gives Palestinians a maximum of fifteen minutes warning to pack their belongings and leave their homes before demolishing their homes.

Israeli Settlers Exploited Gazan Laborers: Israeli settlers paid trapped Palestinian refugees from Gaza one third of Israel’s minimum wage to work as agricultural laborers. Israeli settlers paid Palestinian laborers no compensation upon terminating their employment due to the disengagement (Amira Hass in Ha’aretz Daily). (16)

Nonviolence for Israeli Lawbreakers, Violence for Palestinian Civilians: The Israeli army used no weapons to evacuate protesting Israeli settlers who live on Palestinian land in violation of international law and terrorize and kill Palestinians (17). The Israeli army regularly uses violence and excessive force against Palestinian civilians going about their daily lives and Palestinian non-violent protesters (B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International). (18)

Palestinians Under Curfew and More Settler Attacks in Gaza: Israel has imposed curfews on Palestinians in a number of communities in Gaza bordering the settlements during the settler evacuation. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers in Gaza continued attacks on Palestinian civilians even as the Israeli military was evacuating them (Aljazeera.net). (19)

1. The big freeze
2. ‘Disengagement’ Will Change Little for Gaza;
B’Tselem, and Hamoked; One Big Prison, pg. 84;
Gaza Prison: Freedom of Movement to and from the Gaza Strip on the Eve of the Disengagement Plan;
The World’s Largest Prison Camp
3. U.S. State Department: Remarks Following Meeting With President Mahmoud Abbas
4. Israel to Seek $2.2 Billion From U.S. for Gaza Pullout
Israel: Bush Should Lay Down the Law on Settlements;
Israel/Occupied Territories Removing unlawful Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories: Time to act;
Land Expropriation & Settlements
6. Israeli Forces Encircle Outposts Defying Order to Leave Gaza
7. Israeli Settlers Resist Gaza Pullout, Palestinians Call for Withdrawal from West Bank
9. FAQs on Refugees
10. Gaza Reality Check
11. Gaza Reality Check
12. Gaza Prison: Freedom of Movement to and from the Gaza Strip on the Eve of the Disengagement Plan
13. Giving Up Gaza
14. Encouragement of migration to the settlements
15. The other uprooting
16. The other uprooting
17. Amnesty International condemns killing of Palestinians by Israeli settler, calls for urgent measures to end settlers’ impunity;
Israeli authorities must put an immediate end to settler violence
18. Failure to Probe Civilian Casualties Fuels Impunity;
Beatings & Abuse; Excessive use of force
19. Palestinians under withdrawal curfew;
Settler Attacks Escalate