In a world where headlines often blur into a sea of noise, it’s crucial to pause and celebrate the extraordinary moments that defy the odds. Eighteen years ago, on September 12, 2005, Gaza witnessed one such moment – a triumph of epic proportions, etched into history as the day Palestinian resilience conquered the might of Israeli occupation. This victory was no less than a game-changer, a testament to the unyielding spirit of the Palestinian people who refused to bow to injustice.
The Gaza victory was no fluke. It was the culmination of years of daring heroics and unwavering determination by the Palestinian resistance. Their playbook? A breathtaking arsenal of tactics – from daring incursions and explosive devices to rocket barrages and secret tunnel networks. The toll on the Israeli occupation was staggering, and the Israeli settlers got the message loud and clear – their time in Gaza was up.
Even the Israeli Prime Minister at the time Ariel Sharon had to admit that Gaza had become a financial and strategic quagmire. Despite internal opposition, he pulled the plug on Gaza, orchestrating a swift and somewhat humiliating retreat. Thousands of Israeli settlers were forcefully evacuated, and their homes demolished. Gaza was, once again, in Palestinian hands.
But don’t think for a second that the Israeli occupation was ready to admit defeat gracefully. They responded with a punishing siege on Gaza, choking off the flow of basic necessities, and launching repeated assaults. The resilience of the Gazan resistance, however, remained unshaken. They stood their ground, fortified their defenses, and armed themselves with more advanced weaponry to defend their territory.
The former Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, Dan Halutz, conceded that the withdrawal from Gaza was far from smooth and represented the destruction of the settlement project in the Strip. He also acknowledged that the years that followed were far from favorable for the Israeli occupation, as it launched several major operations in Gaza, such as Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, Operation Protective Edge in 2014, and Operation Guardian of Walls in 2021. These operations, however, failed to halt or deter the Palestinian resistance in Gaza.
Israeli journalist Ariel Kahane echoed these sentiments, describing the evacuation of Israeli settlements in Gaza as a “stupid and useless step.” He argued that it did not achieve any of its goals, such as improving “Israel’s security” or international image. Instead, he claimed that the Israeli occupation ended up with “a terrorist state” on its southern border. He blamed Sharon for retreating from Gaza instead of confronting Gaza, asserting that everyone is paying the price for this move. Kahane further accused the Israeli leadership of neglecting Gaza and allowing Palestinians to develop a formidable military apparatus, including land, sea, and air forces, a tunnel network, and a remote-controlled missile system.
The Gaza victory became a rallying cry for millions of Palestinians and their supporters worldwide. It was a stark reminder that resistance was not only a legitimate response to the Israeli occupation but a potent one. It exposed the sham of the “peace process,” which had served as a smokescreen for Israeli expansionism. More importantly, it shattered the myth of “Israel’s invincibility,” proving that a determined populace, backed by a formidable resistance movement, could indeed prevail.
The Ongoing Struggle
The people of Gaza paid, and continue to pay, a heavy price for their victory. Facing ceaseless aggression and a relentless siege from the Israeli occupation and its Arab allies, their struggle is far from over. Yet, they stand unbowed, refusing to compromise their principles or surrender their dreams of freedom and justice. Their unwavering resolve extends beyond Gaza’s borders, connecting with Palestinians in all of the historic Palestine, and the diaspora. The Gaza victory is not just a chapter in history; it’s a symbol of hope and inspiration for generations to come.
In the annals of Palestinian history, the Gaza victory of 2005 shines like a beacon, a testament to the resilience and determination of a people who refused to be subjugated. It marked a turning point in the struggle for Palestinian liberation, as the Israeli occupation was forced to retreat from its illegal settlements. Ariel Sharon’s surprising surrender underscored the insurmountable cost of occupation. As we reflect on this remarkable victory, let us not forget the ongoing challenges faced by the people of Gaza. Their indomitable spirit and unwavering commitment to justice and freedom serve as a compelling reminder to us all. Gaza’s triumph is a story worth celebrating, a testament to the unstoppable force of Palestinian resistance.