The dire predictions of critics of the Gaza disengagement are being borne out in full. This story from the Jerusalem Post relates that Kassam rockets launched from Gaza today came uncomfortably close to hitting chemical plants in Ashkelon, Israel; had they hit their targets, the potentially resulting disaster might have resulted in a terrible loss of lives and property.
That prospect compelled the Israeli Defense Forces to retaliate by rocketing targets in Gaza, including the Palestinian Authority's Presidential Palace there. The risk of a major armed conflict looms, which will dwarf in loss of Palestinian and Israeli lives the low level conflict that prevailed during the decades time that Israeli settlements were in Gaza.
All too often, the policies of the "Give Peace A Chance" crowd do not bring peace, but only more war and suffering. One only need consider how different history might have been had France and England responded with armed force, when Nazi Germany militarized the Rhineland in 1936, when Hitler and the Third Reich were not yet ready for total war. Millions of lives might have been saved at the cost of a few hundred. But the pacifists of France and Britain insisted on giving peace a chance, and continued to appease Hitler right through the betrayal of Czechoslavakia, until the invasion of Poland made World War II inevitable.
As the Defense Minister of Israel in 1982, Ariel Sharon pursued the opposite policy. He realized that Israel could not continue to sit idly by while the PLO built a state within a state in Lebanon, shielded by Syrian troops and anti-aircraft emplacements, and left alone by a hapless Lebanese government. He persuaded the Israeli government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin to launch an invasion of Lebanon, which was successful in ousting Yassir Arafat and the PLO from Lebanon. After the invasion, the nearest hostile armed Palestinian forces were in Tunis, thousands of miles from Israel.
Then Labor returned to power in Israel, and succeeding Labor governments under Rabin, Peres and Barak opted for "Peace Now" and to "give peace a chance." Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon, and as a result Hezbollah maintains a hostile armed force, with artillery and missiles, on Israel's northern border, periodically shelling and rocketing the communities of northern Israel (and always threatening to do so). The Oslo Accords were signed less than 13 years ago. As a result, Yassir Arafat and his terrorists returned from their impotent exile in Tunis, and set up shop in the West Bank and Gaza. Hostile armed forces now also threaten Israel from the east and the south. The Oslo Accords have already resulted in the deaths of thousands of Israelis and, yes, Palestinian Arabs, and the maiming of tens of thousands more.
In political opposition at the time, Ariel Sharon opposed the Oslo Accords. Then, astonishingly, after becoming Prime Minister, in a seeming betrayal of the principles that guided his military and political careers, he pushed through a unilateral withdrawal of all Israeli settlements from Gaza. Beautiful towns were abandoned and bulldozed into rubble. Families lost their homes, their farms and their businesses. And in short order, as predicted by many, including this writer, Gaza became Hamasistan. The looming Israeli-Palestinian armed conflict will be a direct consequence of the Gaza withdrawal.