Military and Security Implications of Israel's Disengagement from the Gaza Strip

(Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University) Moshe Sharvit - * Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip created the first homogenous contiguous area entirely under Palestinian control, with no Israeli presence whatsoever. Thus far the PA has not been able to gain hold over all the armed Palestinian organizations. Groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and others will likely retain their operational capabilities and continue to constitute the major source of threat against Israel, as long as their capabilities are not diminished by Israel itself. * Western countries appear to regard Israel's military withdrawal, and especially its evacuation of settlements, as substantially diminishing the legitimacy of continued Palestinian attacks against Israel from within the Gaza Strip. As a result, harsh Israeli military responses to Palestinian attacks originating from the Gaza Strip are deemed legitimate and understandable, as long as they do not exceed reasonable proportion. * Israel's relinquishment of control over the Gaza Strip border with Egypt may very well make the smuggling of weapons into Gaza and of Palestinian operatives into Sinai significantly easier than it was before the disengagement. The experience of the first few post-disengagement weeks is not encouraging. * The threat presented by artillery rockets will likely increase. Palestinian groups, it can be assumed, will take advantage of the period of calm for replenishing weapons and stockpiling reserves, as well as developing or purchasing rockets with a range of 10-15 kilometers. The change in threat will be only partially attributable to the disengagement, as it can be assumed that the range and quantity of the rockets held by the Palestinians would have increased to some degree in any event, regardless of the Israeli withdrawal. * Palestinian success in the introduction of rockets into Judea and Samaria and firing them against Israeli towns and settlements (in the Sharon region, for example) would be much more significant than any reasonably foreseeable development in Palestinian capability in this realm in the Gaza Strip.

2005-12-09 00:00:00

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