Prime Minister Ariel Sharon addresses the nation on the disengagement from Gaza, August 15, 2005.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Gilad Sharon, the son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon, defended on Thursday the disengagement from Gaza that his father led in 2005 as the controversial event nears its 10-year anniversary in August.
Speaking in an interview with Army Radio, Sharon said that by disengaging from Gaza his father had "saved Israel."
"We are now a decade out of Gaza, and its clear that nobody really misses it, even amongst those who were evacuated I'm not sure it's a majority," Sharon said.
Sharon said that no one wants to return to Gaza because "there is no one who wants to do reserve duty there. Just like nobody wants that his son will serve there."
He claimed that even those who had been forced to leave their homes would not want to return to "this state of terror and death."
Sharon said that his father was not "naive" and that he "estimated that there would be terror after the disengagement from Gaza, but that he would respond to it with full force." If his father would have stayed in power, he would have used the legitimacy that the disengagement gave him to respond with the required force to rocket fire from Gaza, he added.
"The Palestinians could have turned Gaza into the Singapore of the Middle East, but they wasted their money on weapons and digging tunnels. On the night my father was hospitalized, I heard him speak with the chief of staff and instruct him to fire on Gaza from navy ships. Why? In response to fire. He would use the legitimacy that the disengagement gave us in order to respond with the necessary force. He knew very well how to handle terrorism," Sharon said.
Sharon said that current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had also supported the disengagement at the time, even though he has tried to distance himself from it since. "There was a minority that opposed leaving Gaza, and they had justified arguments, but Netanyahu cannot be included in this group, because he took himself out of this group time after time."
He said that the statistics since the disengagement back up his support for the move. "In the four years prior to the disengagement from Gaza we had 150 killed. In the four years after it was 30 killed. That's five times less. "You can't ignore these statistics. You cannot ignore the fact that the lives of hundreds of people were saved."
Sharon praised his father for taking the controversial step. "Extraordinary leadership was required to carry out this step. It was difficult. It was painful, but necessary. The greater public supported it as did the Knesset."