I can’t commend Israel for dismantling illegal settlements they put in place against international law, the will of the Palestinian people, and the effort to maintain peace. The settlers were well aware of what they were doing, and they were aware of the implications of their actions. With their government, they chose to thumb their nose at the rights of an indigenous people and moved ahead anyway. This should not be viewed as Israel’s reasonable concession towards peace. This should be viewed as the first step, in a long line of necessary actions, toward justice for the Palestinian people.
The event taking place is historic. Yet, it is not disengagement. Gazan children may be able to play in the yard while husbands and wives walk the street freely, but unfortunately their freedom ends there. Israel will control Gaza’s air, sea, and borders as well as the movement of Palestinians entering or leaving Gaza. The dream of contiguous Palestinian territory is left a dream. As predicted, Gaza remains an open air prison, with the outside landscape controlled by their occupying neighbors. The illegal settlers are making their way to lush West Bank territory. Shortly after, an estimated $150,000 to $400,000 per person will be doled out to each Israeli settler, with America footing the bill of course. Unlike Palestinians, the settlers will be granted unlimited housing permits, while the world watches indifferently as Israel displaces and encroaches upon more Palestinians.
It is necessary Israel leave the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but this is not the only factor. The quality of life in Palestinian society is fundamental. Will "disengagement" have a positive affect on the 80 percent living below the poverty line, the 60 percent unemployed, or the flow of products in and out of the territories? The simple answer is no. The continued constraints on Palestinian life will further deteriorate the economic conditions of Gaza.
Palestinians initially accepted the Oslo Accords because people were tired of the violence. Furthermore, promises of a state were made, and the quality of life for their families seemed to be improving. As the world witnessed, quite the contrary occurred. The transfer of power to the Palestinians was slow at best, Israeli incursions continued regularly, and settlements expanded at an unprecedented rate. So while the removal of illegal settlers from Gaza is welcome, if Israel continues to control vital aspects of Palestinian life and the Gazan economy, the Palestinian people will keep on suffering.
As I flip back to the latest coverage by Fox News, I learn the Israeli heartbreak continues. Settlers with tears in their eyes must depart from their surroundings-the easy life they once lived in their "promised land." All the while, I wonder, where are the pictures, the video footage, and the sound bites of Gazans who have lost their homes because of the dispossession of 1948, 1967, the construction of the Annexation Wall, and thousands of house demolitions? Where are the cameras covering the closures, the curfews, and the attacks on Palestinian homes and their livestock? Who is documenting their tears and struggle? Unfortunately, it won’t be Palestinian journalists who can’t get permits by Israel to cover the atrocities in the territories.
Flipping back to CNN, unarmed Israeli soldiers are under "vicious" attack by settlers equipped with buckets of oil, eggs and swinging fists and legs. I only wish the Israeli soldiers resorted to disarmament when struggling with the Palestinian people. I wonder what the family members of the three Palestinians killed by a settler in the West Bank are thinking. How is it possible the Israeli settler was able to take a gun away from a soldier, kill three people, and not be shot dead, but only arrested? Yet, when an 11 year old Palestinian boy in Rafah throws a rock that doesn’t come within 50 yards of a tank, he is sniped in the head.
The disengagement satisfied the appetites in the West, but the Palestinians living in Gaza face a harsh reality. The Israeli soldiers are still in sight, still pulling the strings of their lives, while Gazans brace themselves for Israeli reinvasions made easier once the settlements are out of the way.