News / Middle East

Gaza Lessons Harden Israeli Views on Security, Ahead of Peace Talks

Multimedia

Audio

As Israelis and Palestinians head into U.S.-brokered negotiations, both sides are drawing lessons from Israel's unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip, five years ago.  By removing thousands of Jewish settlers and Israeli troops, Israel hoped to ease tensions.   Israelis wanted security.  The Palestinians hoped greater autonomy would bring peace and prosperity.  Since the withdrawal, neither side has achieved its goals.  For Israelis, the violence of the last five years gave a lesson that has hardened their reluctance to agree to a total pullout from the West Bank - a key issue in the talks.


Hopes dashed

Aziz Aziz owns a clothing factory in the northern Gaza Strip.  Five years ago, he was full of hope that the end of the Israeli occupation was going to mean more business opportunity.

Aziz says that five years after the Jews left Gaza, he expected his situation to be better than it is.  He believed that life would be better and that the economy would grow.  But he says he has seen the opposite happen.  He says that, for the last five years, everything has gone backward.

Aziz had secured lucrative export contracts, but his dreams faded when fighting erupted between rival factions -- President Mahmoud Abbas' moderate Fatah and the militant Islamist group, Hamas.

Gaza descended into chaos, with members of both factions fighting in the streets.



What happened?


Israel imposed a tight embargo when Hamas seized control of Gaza and militants who oppose the existence of a Jewish state stepped up their rocket attacks at southern Israel.

Israel responded in late 2007 with a 22-day attack that leveled much of Gaza's industrial infrastructure.

Even before the Israeli assault, the embargo had already choked fuel imports.  The isolation made exporting to world markets nearly impossible.  

Who is to blame?

With electricity off for up to six hours at a time, Aziz's factory sits idle for much of the day.  He formerly had 70 employees. Now, he struggles to keep eight.

He says he blames the Palestinians' own leadership, be it Fatah or Hamas.  He says both of them should agree and not cause harm to ordinary people.  He says the two groups have destroyed themselves and they are destroying the people.

Israeli viewpoint

Israelis also blame themselves for the way the pullout was carried out.  Their goal was to guarantee their own security, following the failure of negotiations in 2000 and a bloody Palestinian uprising that followed.

Giora Eiland - former head of Israel's National Security Council - was in charge of planning the pullout from Gaza five years ago, under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.  

He says the pullout was an expression of frustration.

"Prior to this decision, nothing clearly worked with the Palestinians," Eiland said.  "We tried to reach an agreement with them.  It didn't work out.  We tried to fight them.  It didn't succeed, as well, so the prime minister made a decision to try to divorce the Palestinians.  We thought, in quite a shallow way:  Let's evacuate the area. Let's build a fence around this area, and at the end of the day, they will be there and we will be here and this is the solution to the problem.  Obviously, it is not as simple as we thought."

Lessons learned

Israeli leaders perceive the 2005 pullout as a lesson that any kind of unilateral withdrawal will be viewed by the enemy as a sign of weakness that encourages extremists to attack.

"If Israel, as a result of a potential peace agreement with the Palestinians, will have to withdraw from a major part of the West Bank, I guess a lot of importance will be given to the security arrangements to make sure that this new vacated area would not turn out to be an area in which so many rockets and missiles and other advanced weapons are produced," Eiland said.

Security concerns

Going into the negotiations, Israel has made security its top priority.  It is demanding a demilitarized future Palestinian state and a continued Israeli presence on the border between the West Bank and Jordan -- two conditions that the Palestinians say amount to continued occupation.

Gaza's Hamas rulers have condemned the negotiations and are not taking part.

Aziz Aziz says he is placing some hope on Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, that they will draw lessons from what he says is the tragedy of Gaza.  He hopes they will find a way to end the Israeli occupation while, at the same time, safeguarding the interests of all Palestinians.  

Aziz says that, if the Israelis pull out of the West Bank, he hopes it will not happen like it did in Gaza.  If it does, he says it means that the Palestinians will be destroyed.  

He says he has hope that President Mahmoud Abbas can negotiate and reach an agreement for the good of all people in Gaza and the West Bank.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

Studies point to possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More