New York – About 70% of the Israeli public believe that Israels unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria last year did not contribute anything towards peace or have any practical value, according to a poll conducted by the Geocartographic Institute on behalf of Israel Army Radio. In contrast, only 20% pf those polled thought the withdrawal was a stimulus for improved relations with the Arab world.
Most of those who participated in the survey held that the evacuation of settlements in Gush Katif was damaging, or at the very least, was ineffective in the fight against Palestinian terror. In addition, 68% of survey participants thought that the government neglected the settlers who were evacuated from Gush Katif; some 50% of those surveyed categorically denounced any future unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria; only 18% supported a future withdrawal on condition that it created conditions conducive to a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority (Jerusalem Post, February 13).
Since the Gaza/northern Samaria withdrawal, the Head of Shin Bet (Israels Security Agency), Yuval Diskin, has revealed that there has been a massive increase in the smuggling of weaponry by Palestinian terrorist groups into Gaza: The amount of weapons and explosives smuggled into the Gaza Strip from Egypt has grown drastically, by more than 300 percent … If before the disengagement they smuggled in 200 to 300 rifles a month, they are now smuggling in close to 3,000.
Diskin has also disclosed that Palestinians have smuggled three anti-aircraft missiles into Gaza, something they had not succeeded in doing before the unilateral pull out of Gaza, in addition to nearly 200 rocket propelled grenades, 350 anti-tank missiles and tons of explosives being smuggled in monthly. According to Diskin, Palestinians are also drafting plans for large-scale terror attacks and with external assistance, Palestinian terrorist groups will have long-range rocket capability within a matter of months (Jerusalem Post, January 10 & 11).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, This latest poll, now that Israelis have had several months in which to witness events stemming from the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria, shows very strongly that a large majority of Israelis believe that pulling out in return for no concessions from the Palestinian side and uprooting 10,000 Jews from their homes, schools, synagogues, farms and businesses in the process contributed nothing to Israel or to peace.
Many who advocated this unilateral withdrawal claimed that it would improve Israels position and allow Israel to fight terrorism more firmly. In fact, nothing like that has happened. Instead, Israel responds to rocket attacks by firing artillery rounds into empty fields long after the terrorists firing rockets from there have escaped and Palestinians are smuggling more and more offensive weaponry into Gaza, including even anti-aircraft missiles, something they had been unable to do while Israeli forces were still on the scene and manning the Gaza-Egypt border.
It is noteworthy that the former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Moshe Moshe Yaalon, stated recently Israels withdrawal from Gaza has turned it into Hamastan, Hizbullahstan and al-Qaedastan …Israel failed to create reliable deterrence for the future … [even] the 1967 borders do not provide an answer to the threat of rocket attacks and suicide bombing attacks, nor do they provide an answer to the threat of conventional attacks (Ynet, January 23). This latest poll only shows that a majority of the Israeli public now share his view.