Israel in the 20th Century Part IV

By | December 22, 2021

On August 15, the evacuation from Gaza began, completed eight days later. The settlers were allowed 48 hours to leave the settlements before the intervention of the security forces. The most serious clashes took place in Neve Dekalim, the largest settlement, where many nationalist religious activists had gathered. Tensions also occurred in Kfar Darom and Netzarim, colonies founded in the early 1970s and inhabited mainly by Orthodox and ultra-nationalist Jews. On August 21, the bulldozers began the destruction of homes in Gaza and on the 23 The evacuation of the four West Bank settlements was completed in August. However, Israel retained control of Gaza’s air and sea space and kept its troops on the border between Gaza and Egypt.

After months of great difficulty, in November the coalition led by Sharon was definitively in crisis due to the exit from the government of the Labor Party, whose new leader A. Peretz wanted to close the alliance with Likud . Sharon called early general elections for March 2006, and at the same time he abandoned Likud to found a new center party, Kadima (Forward), with which to stand in the elections. But on January 4, 2006, a very serious illness forced Sharon to abandon political life, and the orders passed to his deputy, Olmert, who also replaced him at the head of the party. The elections registered the measurement success of Kadima (29 seats), a result that forced Olmert to form a coalition government with Labor (19 seats). Likud and Shas won 12 seats each. With the first months of 2006, a very delicate phase began for Israel, marked first by the disappearance from the political scene of Sharon, whose three years of government had entailed enormous changes for the country, then by the victory of Ḥamās in the Palestinian elections in January: a dangerous threat that required new strategies, first of all the need to give ample room for maneuver to the Ḥamās wingmore willing to dialogue, not aligned with the aberrant positions of the destruction of the State of Israel. Olmert, invoking continuity with Sharon’s policy, already promised during the electoral campaign the creation of a permanent border for 2010, according to the route of the safety barrier of which approximately 335 km had been built in April. The construction of 3,500 new housing units located between East Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma̓ale Adumim was also confirmed, thus compromising the birth of a united and ‘continuous’ state in the West Bank (see also Jerusalem).

But the defeat of the policy of mediation and dialogue was evident in the summer: on 25 June a Palestinian commando killed two Israeli soldiers and kidnapped a third near the Rafah crossing, attacking an Israeli outpost. Israel’s reaction was immediate in the Strip, where once again the armored vehicles returned and numerous exponents of Ḥamās were arrested, some of them ministers in office. A few weeks later, in response to the provocation of the militias of Ḥ ezboll ā h , responsible for the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers (12July) and the launch of some missiles on the north of the country, Israel began a massive air offensive both in southern Lebanon and on Beirut. The Israeli and Ḥ ezboll ā h bombings ended on August 14 with a joint ceasefire. L ‘ 11 August, the resolution 1701 of the UN Security Council had decided to send a peacekeeping force in Lebanon to strengthen the mission that was already present on the territory since 1978, the UNIFIL ( United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon ), created following an Israeli invasion in the south of the country.

The reopening of the Israeli-Lebanese conflict projected the entire Middle East into a scenario of serious tension, characterized by multiple fronts of crisis: the renewed threat of the ḥ ezboll ā h , behind which the aggressive politics of Iranian President M. Ahmadinejad, determined to increase his influence in the region; the destabilization of the fragile democratization process of Lebanon, the only Arab country in which the most recent elections (2005) had not registered the electoral victory of Islamist parties (except for the South of the country, firmly in the hands of the ḥ ezboll ā h ); the difficulties of Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, frightened by the possibility of an Iranian hegemony in the Middle East but unable to counter the extremist positions of their squares; the impotence of the international community to impose a rapid ceasefire, and finally the urgent need for Israel to find a reliable interlocutor in the region.

Israel in the 20th Century Part IV