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last updated April 8, 2009 2:56 PM (EST+7)
Gaza disengagement
Read more: 
Gaza disengagement, disengagement, settlements, Israeli military, evacuation, Gaza Strip, Ariel Sharon, international law, occupation, Israeli occupation, south Lebanon, Lebanon withdrawal

The Gaza disengagement plan was initiated by the Israeli government in August 2005. The plan incorporated the dismantling of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, removing Israeli settlers from the territory into Israel, and withdrawing Israeli armed forces. Four settlements in the West Bank were also evacuated.

The plan was adopted by the government on June 6, 2004 and implemented on August 15, 2005, the deadline given to settlers in Gaza to evacuate the area.

EnlargeAn activist is arrested as he challenges policies that prevent Palestinians from riding Israeli buses in the West Bank." November 15, 2011 (Active Stills)
Settlers attack Palestinians and their property
July 16, 2011 10:36 AM (EST+7)
WATCH: Israeli settlers set cars on fire in Qusra
Oct. 31, 2010 12:00 PM (EST+7)
PM Benjamin Netanyahu in secretly-recorded video, 2001
July 19, 2010 9:54 AM (EST+7)
Green light for Jerusalem settlers
April 28, 2010 4:43 PM (EST+7)
Qarara crossing
Camp David II
Letter from Ariel Sharon to President Bush, 2004
Letter from President Bush to Sharon, 2004
Press Conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Barack Obama - March 21, 2013
Poll No. 68, June 2009 - Palestinian opinions towards the national dialogue in Cairo between Fateh and Hamas Movements
Poll No. 36 Part I, March 2000 - On Palestinian Attitudes Towards Final Status Issues and Women and Legislation in Palestine
Poll No. 37, June 2000 - On Palestinian Attitudes Towards Final Status Negotiations and the declaration of the State
Address to the Nation of Jordanian King Hussein, July 31, 1988, Amman
World Bank report - Disengagement, Palestinian economy and settlements - 2004
World Bank report - Disengagement, Palestinian economy and settlements - 2004

The Palestinian Authority opposed the disengagement plan, arguing that unilateral steps were contrary to the peace process, and would destabilize the region. International actors, however, were largely supportive.

News on Gaza disengagement
Actress and occupation become new internet memeJan. 27, 2014 6:14 PM (EST+7)
Israeli tank shells kill at least two, wound 20 in Gaza StripNov. 10, 2012 11:17 AM (EST+7)
Date farmers suffer Israeli occupation, Palestinian indifferenceNov. 7, 2012 10:22 PM (EST+7)

The event, which took place over several days, received extensive international press coverage. Twenty-one settlements, residence to approximately 9,000 Israelis (although many of them had moved to Israel after the 2000 uprising), were removed along with extensive military infrastructure. Radical Israeli settlers entered Gaza to pose resistance to the evacuation, and some Israeli soldiers declined to participate. The demolition of hundreds of large settlement homes in a matter of hours, however, was a remarkable sight for Palestinians.

After withdrawing its forces, Israel claimed that it was no longer responsible for the residents of the Gaza Strip and its occupation of the area was over. International law experts disagree. 

Although Israel has withdrawn from the Strip, it continues to control Gaza's air and sea space, movement between the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank and from Gaza to neighboring countries, the population registry, family unification, and the transfer of goods to and from Gaza. Israeli control of the population registry (in spite of Oslo's provision that the Palestinian Authority would be the authority in charge) allows it to determine who is a 'Palestinian resident' and who is a 'foreigner', thereby controlling demography in the occupied Palestinian territories.


The disengagement plan was implemented by the government of Ariel Sharon. The plan stated as its goal as "improving the situation and breaking the current deadlock," using as its model Israel's May 24, 2000 withdrawal from south Lebanon. Palestinian-Israeli negotiations were stalled, and Israel was spending millions defending several thousand Israeli settlers in territory of little strategic or religious value.

Soon after the withdrawal, Israel began bombarding the northeastern part of the Gaza Strip in order to create a buffer zone that would prevent rockets attacks into Israel by Palestinian armed groups.

The removal of the Israeli military created a vacuum in Gaza, aggravating internal rifts between Palestinian factions. The increasingly popular Hamas movement declared the withdrawal a victory for armed resistance, and rockets were launched at Israel from newly-evacuated border areas. Hamas rode to victory in January 2006 parliamentary elections upon a wave of support in the disengagement's aftermath. 

After Hamas' June takeover of Palestinian Authority security installations, Israel declared the Gaza Strip "hostile territory" in September 2007, implementing a series of restrictions on fuel, goods, and electricity.

On December 29, 2008, Israeli forces commenced a 22-day war in Gaza that put troops back on the ground for an extended period.

Ariel Sharon's Gaza disengagement plan, Knesset website
Gaza Strip after disengagement, B'Tselem website
al-Haq position paper on Israeli obligations in Gaza, January 2008 (pdf)

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