Senior Disengagement commander: ‘God forgive me’
After 8 years since Gaza Disengagement, retired police officer Meir Ben-Ishay, who commanded operation’s police forces, visits Gush Katif museum, expresses great remorse: ‘Wound is still open’
Eight years after the Disengagement from the Gaza Strip and West Bank, deputy chief of the operation’s police forces Brigadier General (res.) Meir Ben-Ishay expressed sorrow for his part in uprooting settlements, and revealed that he and hundreds of policemen and soldiers were struggling to overcome the trauma behind the pullout to this day.
Ben-Ishay, who coined the expression “sensitive determination” in the summer of 2005, paid an exceptionally long visit to the Gush Katif Museum in Jerusalem last week, and signed the guestbook: “For me, the wound is still open; I apologize if I hurt; “God forgive me.”
In a conversation with the curator and director of the museum, Shlomo Wasserteil, a former resident of the Ganei Tal settlement and a well known figure among Gaza settlers, the senior officer said: “I am not ashamed of my pain. Are ranks a brake for emotions?” He said he did not hesitate to cry in front of his subordinates during the evacuation, and that “IDF generals also shed a tear.”
“You feel great pain,” he explained. “It is not a pain that does not speak to you, you are not disconnected from it, you connect to it intensely with your entire being – with tears.” He further added: “It is my truth. Some say they ‘put a wall’. I tell them, ‘you are in complete denial’. Whoever puts a wall is obtuse. I cannot put a wall on such an experience.”
Kfar Darom eviction, August 2005 (Photo: AP)
Neve Dekalim eviction (Photo: AFP)
(Photo: Yaron Brenner)
Police forces in Kfar Darom, August 2005 (Photo: AFP)
Brig.-Gen. Ben-Ishay criticized his seniors in the police and IDF, who demanded immediate return of the forces to their regular routine by the end of the operation, without talking about their experiences from the Pullout. “People remained, I am sure, with a lot of pain they cannot express. I can certainly say that there are hundreds who are carrying this pain to this day. Plain and simple.”
In the museum’s guestbook he signed: “My wound is still open… As an officer who protected the residents of the Gush (Katif), I found myself evicting you from your homes and lands, and you were an example of true love of the land for me personally and for all the people of Israel… I envied you for your faith in your endeavors… I truly hope we acted with ‘sensitive determination’.”
Ben-Ishay was accompanied by attorney Gilad Corinaldi, who ran a legal battle to save Gush Katif’s synagogues. The two randomly met recently and to their surprise, realized they were on opposite ends during the Gaza Disengagement. “I’m moved by Ben-Ishay’s honesty and bravery, and his words are a source of comfort to many,” said Corinaldi, “to some extent, he is also a victim.”
Wasserteil concluded: “Eight years later – and it’s still as if it happened yesterday. I lost everything I had, it’s a terrible thing and must never happen again.”
Amen, may G-D forgive him.
May others learn from his pain, so that no other officer will fill this pain. May G-D grant our officers the strength to refuse such evil orders in the future.