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!
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • from-cache

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.