Left: A hothouse in Bnei Atzmon (Sasson Tiram)
Upper right: Neve Dekalim (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Lower right: A playground in Morag (Sasson Tiram)
Removing the Jewish communities from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria means:
■ 42 day-care centers, 36 kindergartens, seven elementary schools, and three high schools will be closed
■ 5,000 schoolchildren will need to find new schools
■ 38 synagogues will be dismantled
■ 166 Israeli farmers will lose their livelihoods - plus some 5,000 of their Palestinian workers
■ 48 graves in the Gush Katif Cemetery, including those of six residents murdered by terrorists, will be exhumed and moved to Israel.
Disengagement will cost Israel an estimated $2 billion - about 3.5 percent of the 2005 state budget.
■ The cost of family relocation alone is estimated to be nearly $1 billion. This will come from an annual state budget of about $59 billion.
■ In addition, the IDF will spend some $500 million to remove military bases and equipment from the Gaza Strip.
■ To cite just one example of the costs entailed, the demolition and removal of rubble from some 3,000 homes and public buildings will cost an estimated $25 million.
■ In the context of Israel’s 2005 state budget, the estimated $2b. cost of disengagement is equivalent to about half the country's annual health budget or approximately one third of the budget for education.
Establishing peace is a fundamental goal of Jewish tradition and the declared policy of the State of Israel. Israel has long sought peace with its Arab neighbors and particularly with the Palestinians. The great challenge in making peace is that it is a process that hopefully does not end just with the cessation of hostilities between former enemies, but with the beginning of a new relationship of coexistence. Israel’s ultimate goal is to establish good neighborly relations with a Palestinian state.
Against the background of more than four years of terrorist bloodshed, Israel has initiated its Disengagement Plan in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria, both to enhance its security and to put the peace process with the Palestinians back in motion. For it to have a chance to work, the plan requires a considerable sacrifice on the part of some 1,700 settlers and their families, or about 8,000 people who must leave the homes and livelihoods they have built over the course of several decades.
In the short term, it is these settlers who are paying the greatest part of the price for peace. It is they who were encouraged by previous governments to settle barren land and turn it into homes, gardens, and farms, in the same pioneering spirit that built the State of Israel. They are now being asked to relinquish these accomplishments for the greater good.
Many of these pioneers came to the Gaza Strip, for example, as young couples - and are now facing the trauma of leaving their homes with their children and grandchildren, for whom Gaza has been their only home.
The following capsule descriptions of the 25 settlements included in the Disengagement Plan show what some of Israel’s pioneers are giving up for peace.Packing furniture for removal at Nisanit (IDF Spokesman, 15 Aug 2005)
Soldiers and settlers embrace in Neve Dekalim (IDF Spokesman, 15 Aug 2005)Maj.Gen. Dan Harel attends closing of Atzmona academy (IDF Spokesman, 16 Aug 2005)
Israel backs its words with action and is willing to pay a major price for peace.