The gate closed on the Gaza strip, sealing off Gaza from the rest of Israel, at exactly midnight Aug. 14, 2005. On the Jewish calendar, August 14 was the 9th of the month of Av.
Upon doing some research, I discovered that every bad thing that ever happened to the Jews as a people occurred or began on the 9th of Av.
- In 586 BCE, the first Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, and the Babylonians took over Jerusalem where the Jews resided. Large numbers of Jews died in the course of the battle.
- In 70 CE, the second Temple was destroyed by the Romans on the 9th of Av.
- The First Crusade was declared on the 9th of Av in 1095 by Pope Urban II. Ten thousand Jews were killed the first month, and many Jewish communities were obliterated on that fateful day, including those in France and Rhineland.
- On the 9th of Av in 1290, Jews were expelled from England under the rule of King Edward I.
- In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain on the 9th of Av, during the Spanish Inquisition.
- In 1942, during World War II, Polish Jews were removed from the Warsaw Ghetto by Nazis on the 9th of Av. They were deported to death camps in Treblinka in what was to be the beginning of the Holocaust.
In 1994, the AMIA Building (a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina), was bombed, killing 86 people and wounding 300 others. All of them were Jewish.
There is more, but I think you get the point.
And now, there’s the Gaza disengagement. The last day for legal evacuation was the 9th of Av. Obviously, nothing good can come of it.
Is it possible that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was unaware of this history? Or unaware that he was expelling Jews from their homes, jobs and communities, on such a significant day? I should have known the meaning of the 9th of Av because I am a Jew, but not being religious, I am ashamed to say that I did not.
Upon further research, I found out, that the 9th of Av is so significant for the Jews, that it’s a holiday. Not the cheerful, fun kind, but rather the sad, depressing kind. It’s called “Tisha B’Av,” and it’s a day of mourning. “A day set for misfortune”, as the Rabbis put it. It is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. Those who commemorate the events of that date actually go through the religious and traditional rituals that are observed in death. Mourning prayers are recited, the Book of Lamentations is read and the Torah (the Jewish Bible) is draped in black. There are also all kinds of religious restrictions: mourners fast, refrain from work and are prohibited from engaging in many of their daily activities. They actually “sit Shiva”–sitting on stools as they would when a member of their family dies.
Still, I thought perhaps Sharon didn’t know this–until I got hold of a copy of the eviction notice. It read:
Southern Command Headquarters
Office of the Major General
2 Av 5765
8 August 2005
Residents of the Gaza District
Letter from the Commander of Southern Command to citizens of the State of Israel resident in the Gaza District area
Based on the Law for Implementation of the Disengagement Plan 5765/2005, and in accordance with the decision of the government of Israel and the order of the prime minister, you are required to evacuate your homes and leave the territory of the Gaza Strip by Motzaei Tisha B’Av (14/08/2005) at 24:00. From that time on, the phase of “voluntary” evacuation will end, the checkpoint at the entrance to the Gaza Strip will be closed, and the entry of civilians will not be permitted (rather only their exit), since from that time, the 14/08/2005 at midnight, presence in the Gaza Strip is not legal.
On the 10th of Av (15/08/2005) security forces will arrive to evacuate you from your homes and will instruct you to leave the Gaza Strip.
Throughout the years the IDF has defended the settlements of the Gaza District area out of a sense of partnership, responsibility and national mission.
This task, too, will be carried out by us out of a feeling of partnership and a deep understanding of your pain. That said, the IDF, as the army of a democratic state subject to the authority of the law, will carry out this task in its entirety.
From the 12th of Av (17/08/2005) at 00:00:01 the phase of forced evacuation will begin, in which security forces will arrive and evacuate the residents who choose to stay and who force the security forces to confront them with the purpose of implementing the law.
I am certain and confident that your commitment to the rule of law and responsibility for the welfare of the nation will guide your protest.
I bear a prayer of peace for all of us – citizens of Israel resident in the Gaza Strip, the IDF and the Israel Police.
With respect and appreciation,
Dan Harel, Major General
Commander of Southern Command
As of the moment the clock struck midnight, merely hours after sunset on the 9th of Av, when the Jews were still in mourning, it was illegal for Israelis to be in Gaza. The actual notices were distributed on August 15, or the 10th of Av.
Amazingly, the significance of this Jewish holiday went largely unnoticed.
To make matters worse, recent photographs showed Hamas openly holding a huge party to celebrate the Gaza disengagement. And before the Israelis even finished withdrawing from of Gaza, the Palestinians were flying flags that read, “Palestine today. The West Bank and Jerusalem tomorrow.” Not surprisingly, the flags had the UN logo on them, and were paid for by UN money. Now, the Palestinian Authority is planning to rename the evacuated Jewish settlements after terrorists. After the evacuation, the Palestinian Cabinet met to discuss various proposals for name changes. According to Samir Huleileh, the Palestinian secretary-general, the renaming of large cities after Yasser Arafat, Ahmed Yassin (the founder of Hamas) and the “martyrs” who died in the Intifada, is under serious consideration.
Unfortunately, no peace will be had as a result of the Israeli pullout from Gaza. On August 19, Sheikh Muhammad Ali, deputy director of the Palestinian Clerics Association, was interviewed by Hezbollah’s Al-Manor TV, during which he explained that it is the duty of every Muslim to engage in jihad. He promised to win back more Israeli territory for the Palestinians through jihad, and “not negotiation”. Al-Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, echoed the sentiment, stating the Gaza victory, “was not because of negotiations, or the goodwill of Israel or the Americans.” Rather, it was due to “armed struggle.” He vowed to re-start the violence by the year’s end.
Furthering terrorist goals, on August 22, Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced they reached an agreement with the Palestinian Authority that the two groups would not have to disarm. Hamas leaders admitted their strategy of “resistance” or “armed struggle” would continue until they win over the West Bank and Jerusalem. Even Ahmed Querei, the PA prime minister, who is supposed to be part of the new peace-loving leadership replacing Yasser Arafat, proclaimed, “There will be no calm until the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.” He lauded Syrian-Palestinian relations, acknowledging the PA, Hamas and Islamic Jihad had just engaged in an important meeting in Damascus, and were working in cooperation with each other. In addition, Mahmoud Abbas has met with the leaders of the Quartet, requesting they put international pressure on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and Jerusalem, and to refrain from constructing a security fence along the Israel-Palestine border. I could have told you the Palestinians wouldn’t be happy with just Gaza. Don’t you have a sneaking suspicion that if they got all the West Bank and Jerusalem, the rest of Israel would be next?
In recent months, Hamas has scored landslide victories in local elections in the Gaza strip. They are hoping to do the same in their first upcoming legislative election when they run against the PA’s Fatah party. I never thought I’d agree with anything Hamas said, but Hamas leaders insist that the Gaza pullout is a win for suicide bombers and terrorism, and in this case, they are right.