Gaza Journal; Crowds Confront Soldiers

Historian Makes History

By Ami Eden

Published August 19, 2005, issue of August 19, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

With the sun setting on Gaza Tuesday night, historian Michael Oren stood in the Gush Katif settlement bloc as Israeli soldiers received orders for the next day’s forced removal of Jewish settlers.

A senior fellow at the Jerusalem-based center-right Shalem Center think tank, Oren wrote a highly praised book on Israel’s capture of Gaza and the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War. But this week, Oren was in Gush Katif as a major in the Israeli reserves — to take part in the historic pullout from Gaza.

Speaking via cell phone, Oren noted that it took only 8,000 Israeli troops to seize Gaza in 1967; this week, he added, Israel is using more than 50,000 troops to pull out from the area.

“I’m looking at about 200 to 300 air-force personnel gathered around the Israeli flag as the sun is setting, about to hear the briefing on their mission,” said Oren, who serves in the military press office and was embedded this week with a special air-force unit. “They will be taking people out of houses.”

Oren already had experienced his own confrontation with anti-disengagement forces.

The day before, he was sent on a bus to Neve Dekalim, the largest settlement in Gush Katif, to pick up two journalists who had asked to be evacuated, including one who reported being dehydrated.

Though a police car accompanied Oren’s convoy, a mob of Israeli teenagers wielding foot-long knives blocked it, forcing the journalists to make a run for the bus. They made it, but the teenagers punctured all four of the police car’s tires, as well as one of the bus’s tires.

“We threw our bus into reverse and a military ambulance came around us,” Oren said. Next, the mob pierced the ambulance’s tires.

“I don’t know how that police car got out, wobbling on four flat tires,” Oren said. “I don’t know what happened to the ambulance.”

A day after the incident, Oren seemed more interested in talking about the young soldiers he had been embedded with than about the teenagers who attacked his bus.

The unit was a diverse mix, including men and women, some Ethiopians and yarmulke-clad soldiers. So far, Oren said, he had yet to hear anyone complain about the mission.

“They view this as an opportunity to preserve democracy and the Jewish character of the state,” he said.

At the same time, he added, “they stress again and again” that the settlers slated for evacuation are not the enemy. “They are super-trained on how to remove residents in a way that causes them the least physical and psychological discomfort.”

The soldiers “are prepared psychologically,” Oren said. “They talk openly about their fears, fears of being castigated, vilified.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.