The 15-year anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza has been accompanied by a wave of painful personal and political memoirs, amid a difficult debate on the wisdom of Ariel Sharon’s sudden policy shift.
The latest round of “balloon terrorism” from Gaza that is torching the fields and trees of southern Israel, and the periodic rocket attacks, sending thousands of Israelis into shelters in the middle of the night, are reminders that the hoped-for quiet was an illusion.
Instead of using the withdrawal as an opportunity for economic development to lift the people of Gaza out of poverty, the Palestinian leaders have diverted international aid into cross-border attack tunnels and rocket brigades.
Largely forgotten in this historical reckoning is the European Union’s role in this process, and the failure of the EU to provide the guarantees they had pledged to fulfill in 2005.
After Israel’s withdrawal, the EUBAM (European Union Border Assistance Mission) was deployed at the Rafah crossing point between Gaza and Egypt. The mission consisted of some 60 police and customs officials “to help bring peace to the area,” ostensibly by monitoring traffic in order to deter smuggling of weapons into Gaza.