update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Gaza terror groups mark 18 years since disengagement ’victory’

Palestinian terrorist groups marked the anniversary of the Israeli withdrawal with military drills and the launch of rockets out to sea.

Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip fire rockets toward the sea, Sept. 12, 2023. Photo by Majdi Fathi/TPS.
Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip fire rockets toward the sea, Sept. 12, 2023. Photo by Majdi Fathi/TPS.

Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday fired rockets toward the Mediterranean Sea as they marked 18 years since Israel’s “defeat” and the uprooting of the coastal enclave’s Jewish communities.

The Hamas-led Joint Operations Room, which includes a dozen U.S.-designated terror groups that coordinate attacks on the Jewish state, said the rocket fire was part of a military exercise that also included guerrilla warfare simulations.

“The defeat of the occupation from Gaza establishes its defeat from [Judea and Samaria] and heralds the liberation of Jaffa, Haifa, Jerusalem and the rest of the country, inshallah [God-willing],” Muhammad Deif, head of Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades, said in a statement.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday likewise stated that Sharon’s disengagement plan brought about a “new equation” in the conflict with Israel. “This defeat marked a new dawn for the Palestinian people,” Haniyeh claimed, calling it the “start of the comprehensive liberation phase.”

On Sept. 12, 2005, the Israel Defense Forces completed then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza, as the last soldier left the coastal enclave after almost 40 years of modern Israeli presence.

In the weeks prior, Israeli soldiers had evicted around 8,500 Jews from their homes.

The Strip was soon thereafter conquered by Hamas in a bloody coup against the ruling Fatah faction. Since then, Israel has fought four wars with Hamas, in 2008-2009, 2012, 2014 and 2021, along with numerous smaller conflicts, including against Iranian proxy Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The 2005 disengagement also led to the evacuation and destruction of Homesh, Sa-Nur, Ganim and Kadim in northern Samaria. In May, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, head of the IDF Central Command, signed an order allowing Israelis to once again enter Homesh.

The coalition agreement between the ruling Likud Party and Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism Party required the government to allow the Homesh Yeshiva to remain in place as a first step towards rebuilding the four communities.

“The Israeli government nullified the Disengagement Law in northern Samaria and is regulating the Jewish settling of and hold on Homesh. I wish to thank Defense Minister [Yoav] Gallant and the Settlement Authority for their joint work for Homesh and the communities [of Judea and Samaria],” said Smotrich last month.

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