Former prime minister Ariel Sharon's son Gilad defended the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip on Saturday night, even though rockets have been falling around the Sharon family ranch in the Sha'ar Hanegev region. The ground phase of Operation Cast Lead began last Saturday, a day before the third anniversary of Ariel Sharon's second stroke that ended his political career. He is still lying in a coma at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, where his sons Gilad and Omri visit him daily. While many residents of communities hit by Gazan rockets blame the disengagement, Gilad Sharon said in an interview with Channel 2's Danny Kooshmarrow that the current operation only deepened his belief that the Gaza withdrawal was in Israel's best interest. "The lives of hundreds of Israelis were saved because of the [disengagement]," said Gilad Sharon, whose father consulted with him ahead of his decision to withdraw. He listed the number of mortar shells fired at the Jewish communities in Gush Katif before the withdrawal and the number of soldiers who were protecting them, and said that both the settlers and soldiers would have been endangered had they remained there. Asked about his father's decision not to leave soldiers in the Philadelphi Corridor between Gaza and Sinai, he recalled pictures of soldiers forced to crawl on all fours looking for the remains of their fellow soldiers who had been killed in tunnels under the border with Egypt. "To sit in the Philadelphi Corridor is a death trap," Sharon said. "Staying in Philadelphi would have been a mistake." Sharon said the withdrawal gave the IDF legitimacy for its current operation and removed the obligations Israel faced when it controlled the Gaza Strip. "One of the achievements of leaving Gaza is that we aren't responsible," Gilad Sharon said.