Israeli soldiers locked the gates separating Israel and the Gaza Strip Monday morning, September 12, 2005, ceremoniously marking the end of a 38-year-long presence there. SPECIAL REPORT: ISRAEL'S DISENGAGEMENT FROM GAZA Do you think Israel's presence in the Gaza Strip strengthened or weakened the country? How will life in Israel be different now that the presence in Gaza has ended? How do you expect the withdrawal to influence Israel's standing in the international community? Click here to send us your comments >> Joseph Simard, Australia: How long will Israel pander to the media and so called public opinion and not do what it knows to do? It's 'killing' the likes of me watching you guys die by a thousand cuts. I'm not even a Jew. It's like a re-take of the scene in the 1966 Steve McQueen movie 'The Sand Pebbles' where this guy is getting sliced up by a mob and his friend has to make a decision to save him and risk starting an international incident in doing so or shoot and kill him to avoid it. Against all justice and morality, the latter option was taken. Similarly, trying to avoid 'international incidents' is only going to get Israel 'shot' dead. Better to tough it out and get on with it while you've still got the strength to do it. Blind Freddy can see that evacuating Gaza will not generate one kind word for Israel from public opinion nor advance its interest one iota. None. Zip. Nil. Zero!!! It has NOT changed the bigots whose minds were already made up decades before the pullout that Israel shouldn't exist in the first place... so what has Israel gained by leaving Gaza?? Re-take Gaza AND the West Bank, but this time expel all the Arabs and start from scratch: re-migration. Problem is Israel seems to think that by negotiating it will end up with 'some' land. But it won't... it will lose the lot at this rate. This internal policy of trying to garner international support for every decision it (Israel) takes is unnatural, like living in a fish-bowl. Consider your own interests and get on with occupying and settling what's rightfully yours before you 'bleed to death'. Susan Schylander, New York, USA: From the days of illegal Arab immigration into the State of Israel, to the manufactured claims to land which belongs to Israel, the Arabs have only benefited from the Jewish people of Israel. They came there in the first place to work for us, they claimed our lands, then they pushed us out, murdered and preyed upon us. They were given the entire infrastructure intact in Gaza, as in the West Bank, and nine billion dollars to build. I hope the Israeli government does not allow a single Gazan into Israel to work, get health care or buy food. Because they desecrated our synagogues, murdered our women and children, and will carry bombs into Israel. Please, Israelis, listen!! Laurence Morrell, Maitland, Florida, USA: Until the Palestinians have something to lose, there will be no changes in their attitude towards Israel. I would encourage massive construction projects to employ the many thousands of unemployed. Construction of housing, roads, water treatment plants, hospitals, schools, tourist facilities, office parks, industrial parks, agricultural projects, business enterprises,etc. Only then will they have something to defend, to loose, to protect, to be proud of. Stan Goodman, Qiryat Tiv'on, Israel: None of what has happened in Gaza and Rafah has been a surprise. I do not think that anyone expected anything else. Specifically, nobody could have expected seriously that Abu Mazen, who owes his PhD to his dissertation "proving" that the Shoah is a Jewish lie, believes that a promise made to a Jew needs to be honored. On the morning following the nighttime departure of the IDF, with Israeli hopes that he would be able to forge a successful Palestinian state, he immediately proclaimed that this is the first step on the way to Jerusalem, lubricated by the blood of "martyrs"; this is his peacemaking approach. Why, then, do we wish him well? And why, in the face of his perpetual "Poor helpless little me" act are we obligated to build him up in the eyes of his constituents? Isn't that interference in the affairs of a "state"? (The quotes are intentional.) If he is not able to bring his constituents to a desire to make peace with Israel (witness the threats of not only Hamas, but also those of his own security adviser, Jibril Rajoub), why are we even talking to the man? It is none of our business who rules that brutal and primitive people. My own inclination would be to let him and his people decide for themselves whether Hamas or Fatah (two sides of the same coin) are to lead the people, let the winning faction prosecute its agenda, and react accordingly -- and as violently as military necessity demands, because the alternative is to permit them to dream forever of eventual victory over us. One wins wars by convincing the enemy that the jig is up, not by fawning on its leaders' phony promises. Seth Friedman, White Plains, USA: First off, I see absolutely no reason that Israel should open any border to Gaza. The crossings into Israel should be sealed until the Palestinians achieve law and order, demolish terrorism and stop inciting terrorism. They can now use Egypt to contact the outside world. Further more Israel needs to line up its artillery along the Gaza border and any missile or terrorism needs to be answered with a massive response. The Idea that we can pinprick the terrorists is foolish while the entire society aids and abets them. Colin Alfred, London,UK: Whatever the legal considerations, your contributors who sneer at "the international community" are making a big mistake. Israel is part of the "international community" and its policies should be aimed at making Israel's voice heard in that community. There is no chance of changing the international community's attitude towards the settlements in Gaza / Judea / Samaria / West Bank / Palestine or whatever name one wants to use. It may be true that that there was never a state called Palestine - but there wasn't one called Israel either, in the modern sense in which international law deals with 'states' - to most people in the world, Biblical Israel was a kingdom that disappeared, along with hundreds of others, in every continent, over the centuries. Our claim is based on our character as a distinct people, and a long-standing presence in, and connection with, the land; and the Palestinians make the same claim. The international community hears both claims, and rightly so. It's true that many Palestinians would only be happy if every Jew disappeared from what they see as Muslim land; there are also unfortunately some Jewish Israelis who would be quite happy if all the Palestinians got up and left. Neither of those is going to happen, so the task is to find a way of living together. To achieve that, Israelis as the stronger group are going to have to make the biggest sacrifices. The Gaza withdrawal was a magnificent first step - magnificent precisely because it was a huge sacrifice. No, the weaker side won't acknowledge it as such. They've been put down for years, arguably even for centuries by others before Israel existed as a political entity, and they're having a hard time recovering. It's unfortunate, but it's not surprising. Israel needs to be seen by the international community as respecting world opinion, because that is the first step in reaching a position of becoming a leader in forming world opinion - and that should be the aspiration of a Jewish state. Rose, USA: My president stabbed Israel in the back. And for Condi Rice to say she is a Christian is a disgrace. What bible does she read? It says God will bless those that bless Israel and curse those that don't. Israel is God's land and he says he will punish those that give it away. The United States has started receiving its punishment. The world needed to stay out of Israel's business. Nelson Roger, Belle Mead, NJ, USA: Israel would never have this problem if the border was land mined before the pullout. In fact, the entire border's of Israel should land mined along the new fence. Jonathan Usher: As the Palestinians are rushing into Egypt to visit their friends and relatives, I would suggest that Gaza become part of Egypt, as it was before Israel won it in the 1967 defensive war against Egypt and its Muslim crusader buddies. Brent, NY, USA: Never before has a country willfully dismantled itself piece by piece. As Israel was a source of strength and pride for world Jewry in 1967, it has become a weak and pitiful model for us now. M.O., vienna, virginia, USA: Those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. I am greatly saddened by the sight of Israelis marching like lemmings to their own destruction, blinded by the stupid promises of corrupt and tired old men. It is a truly terrible day when you look at a nation's political scene and realize that the only hope for national survival may be a military coup and a Revolutionary Government willing and able to stand every member of every political party or movement to the left of the Likud up against a wall. That day, for me, is today. Paul Bloom, Edison, NJ: Once again Israel's leadership is jeopardizing Israeli lives in order to placate the world's leaders. Did any Israeli politician believe that either Egypt or the PA abide by any agreement . Once again the Palestinian's succeeded in blowing an opportunity that they are a people deserving freedom. It is so sad. I just hope Israeli leaders wake up and decide what is best for Israel regardless of world opinion. Nathan Weinstein, Baltimore, Md, USA: The border between Gaza and Egypt is presently porous and Palestinians and arms are flooding back and forth. So much for the IDF to trust Egypt to keep order. Mofaz should now keep his word...."the IDF will keep order if the Egyptians can't." Wake up Israel, How much longer can agreements be made with the Palestinian authority and Egypt when they are being abused even before the ink is dried? Get with it and teach the SOB's a lesson once and for all that Israel is not to played with. Ayin Tachas Ayin! Ruth Medina, Concord MA, USA: Observing Gaza disengagement was bittersweet for me. I can understand the lost and the grieving of the families leaving the settlements. However, I am sure it is much better for Israel to be out. It will be interesting to see how mature, as a country, the Palestinians are going to be. I felt sad and also very angry with the Palestinians burning the beautiful buildings of the synagogues, and destroying the greenhouses that can be a source of jobs for them. It is their problem now. I have to say that the IDF, from the youngest soldier to the Chief commander were great. I felt very proud, for the kindness, sensitivity and professionalism that all of them showed until the last moment, when they closed the Gates. Sid Krieg, Coconut Creek, Fl: I've been trying to fathom the mentality of Sharon & Co. who, with the smiling enthusiastic approval of every other nation on this planet, first yanked out the thriving helpless Jewish families that had settled in Gaza and then gave it wholly away. The justification? A quid-pro-quo of Peace and Security for Israel? Could it be S&C are just plain simpletons; thus, they are unable to comprehend the Arab/Palestinian reality that has battered Middle-East Jews daily -- for longer than their own lives? Could it be S&C are fresh arrivals from outer space, or recently born, or just public exhibits from a newly discovered primitive tribe; thus, wide-eyed and stunned by amazement, they cannot understand or cope sensibly with any aspect of our civilization? Could it be S&C are fifth columnists from the UN, or from that lovely Arab League, or from that giant pool of anti-Semitic NGO's; thus, with passion, dedication and joy, they've done their dastardly deed? However, whatever took place in the befuddled minds of S&C, I think that S&C's manipulation of Israel's retreat ("unilateral withdrawal") from Gaza has greatly compounded the problem of peace and existence for Israel. Fabia Fiortina, Los Angeles:: To Peter in Montreal, I am not surprised that sitting in Canada you do not see the importance of Gaza. Frankly, sitting in Los Angeles, I do not see the importance of Montreal. As for the illegality of Israeli settlement, it defies neither international no Israeli law since Egypt never had legal status there and, in any case, Israel won it in a defensive, which was begun by Egypt. Never in history has any nation been forced to cede lands taken in such a manner. On the other hand, there may be room for discussion about the legality of European settlement in North America. Peter Silver, Montreal, Canada: I fail to see the importance of Gaza, except to allow the Palestinians more room to kill each other. Israel needed 1.5 million extra Arabs ,like they need a new Arafat. as far as the , what looks like, a new open border between the Gaza and Egypt, even better for Israel. Now , the burden of all these people will be on Egypt's hands, allowing some of the fanatics to start killing tourists inside Egypt. Israel has the wall and it is strong around the Gaza strip. This was thought out very well, far in advance of the relinquishing of the settlements, which were illegal in any case. Also, when push comes to shove, Israel will do what is good for them and not their "friends" wishes or demands. So, let us watch the show that is going on in the Gaza and wait until it kills itself. However, if Israel is shot at or rockets come from the Gaza, they must respond forcefully or indeed, they will have lost. Ludmilla Fennich, Orlando, Fl, USA: Watching Gaza settlers leave was a painful experience. Israelites threw acid on officers asking them to leave, yet they left quickly. One or two men caught my attention. I can only describe them as drenched with religious feeling. I do not know what they felt. I cannot deny that a spiritual purpose exists for zoning peace between different parts of the country, as one exists for spiritual strife. I do not know what the settlers took out of their experience through the years. Resettlement may be transitional. Everything that looks one way from the Gaza Strip might look a different way from each part of the country, but not only on group levels, also individual. I cannot guess from where the country gathers its strength. Today, I can only pray recent events foster more zoning peace. Realistically, I don't see how it could be apparent so quickly which aspects of religious living during Gaza Strip settlement should be denied. To form an opinion that can only be revealed by God would be premature, but can't we all vote? Dehaluyi Wadegei, Mountain Home, NC, USA" The world must surely see that the "reward" for Israel's capitulation in leaving Gaza is violence and more violence. The door is now open for an influx of arms and manpower through Egypt to join in the maniacal determination of Middle Eastern nations to annihilate Israel from the face of the earth. While the US and its allies continue to bully their way into whatever country it pleases them to attack, the same nations whine and cry for Israel to give up what little is left to her! Hypocrites abound! Perhaps Israel should ask herself if indeed those "mighty" nations are for her at all. Perhaps the lust for oil has shifted American "loyalty"? Perhaps Israel should ignore world opinion & just do what must be done to save herself! I don't think the "world powers" will be content until Israel is a mere memory, until the oil-rich nations are appeased with the disappearance of Israel as a nation, until every inch of Holy ground is in the hands of Israel's sworn enemies. Too much ground is already lost, and with it the security of an entire nation hangs in the balance! Stand your ground, Israel! You've already given up too much! G-d is with you and you know this! Keep what He gave you! Kfir: The Zionist idea was about having a Jewish State. Our "presence" in Gaza (and the rest of the occupied territories) for 38 years was and continues to be the most dangerous element to the Zionist idea. Occupying these territories and settling them soon after, was the biggest historical mistake by the state of Israel. It was a mistake that almost seems to be irreversible...the Gaza model must succeed. Because if it fails...then so does the Zionist idea. The "day after the pullout" has just began...and although Israeli politicians are quick to blame Abu Mazen for the immediate failures...Israel has done everything it can to torpedo the possibility of success. We are building settlements! Wake up! We are not only delegitimizing Abu Mazen...but we are humiliating him as well! Charlene Hale, County Durham, England, UK: I can understand Sharon disengaging; however, I do not believe it will usher in peace and prosperity for Israel. I am sure that the Palestinian Authority will make fallacious statements when it is convenient to do so. They are not a people of genuine peace and appeasing them is like appeasing a crocodile. The destruction of the shuls was a sure exposure of their motives and intents. I do not trust Abbas in the slightest, as he changes his tune even more than capricious winds change direction. The settlements bloomed under the Jewish settlers because they had a Biblical mandate to the land. As to the question of Jerusalem - may it stay under Jewish governance. I live in Britain and am a Christian and I mourn the loss of the Gaza settlements. To see Hamas et al strutting around to me was not liberation but was the tyranny of lawlessness parading its violence and hatred. I read Psalm 83 and cry out to Adonai to act. Ovadiah ben Avraham, Jerusalem, Israel: In today's Jerusalem Post (Sept. 14) we see that already the Egyptian/Gaza border has been opened wide with zero control. Now the Israeli Government is promising to "take steps" if the Egyptians do not. This was predicted by Bibi Netanyahu and everyone else who has eyes to see. What kind of harsh measures can Israel take that may end up in the killing of Egyptian personnel mixed among the Palestinians? What's next, war with Egypt? We are already seeing the failure of Oslo 3, the Gaza Option. I feel badly for Shaul Mofaz, who I think is a good man militarily. I credit him with the targeted removal of the Hamas leadership, and the separation fence, which in combination have done so much to stop the dying of citizens on both sides. But he staked his political future with Sharon's Gaza plan, and now it will be time for the both of them to be judged by the people in the polls. Peter Kennedy, USA: I am a logician by trade, but this move by Israel really escapes me! I think the enemies of Jews now laugh all the way to the bank, and find that terrorism really pays off. Now they will hassle Israel and keep the Jews on their feet with more and more terrorist attacks. Clear as 2*2 = 4. Therefore, this Gaza pullout was self-defeating and extremely damaging to the Jews, jeopardizing the future of their country and the lives of their citizens. Gregory Ticker, Toronto, Canada: As former inhabitant of Ganei Tal, I fully understood the precarious position of Gush Katif and the cynical behavior of the Israeli government long ago. Instead of building settlements in the open areas adjacent to the Green Line, Sharon put them in the middle of the Arab population. It was well known that the purpose of Gush Katif was to serve as a barrier between Khan Yunis and Rafiah. Kfar Darom was controlling major highway between Khan Yunis and Deir al Balakh, and Netzarim blocked the same highway between Deir al Balakh and Gaza. The civil Jewish population was used for tactical military purposes. In the midst of Oslo I spoke with many members of Ganei Tal including Zvi Hendel, and warned them that Gush Katif is the easiest part of the territories to part with for any Israeli government, and I was answered that the army and the government had guaranteed that it would never happened because of high strategic value of the area. When it became necessary, the settlers were demonized, presented as a messianic fanatics and parasites who gobbled huge amount of the treasury resources, while the government doesn't have enough money to maintain a social security net, pay wages to the local government's workers, as well as putting a strain on the IDF, which must guard them. Now, the very IDF units which had been controlling Gaza and by virtue of this protecting the Green line will be doing the same from inside the Israel, Israel will pay a fortune for creating a new border wall, money previously spent on developing the infrastructure of Gush Katif simply won't reach the development towns and will dissipate in a some mysterious way inside bowels of the corrupt and inefficient Israeli governing system. American money promised as the prize won't appear. And of course as after Oslo, citizens will loudly complain that they have been defrauded. If we won't draw lessons about the state and ourselves the retreat from Gaza means catastrophe, if we would be able to instigate sweeping reforms in Israel this would mean hope. Martin Leonard, Brisbane, Australia: I fail to understand how Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora can continue to kid themselves that there is any chance of 'peace' in our times. The so-called "Palestinians' and other Arabs have made it abundantly clear that they will never be satisfied with less than the total annihilation of the Israeli State. Leaving Gaza will only give Israel's many enemies the fuel to fan the fires of Jewish evacuation of all of the West Bank and all of Jerusalem. Yitzhak Hizkiyahu, Roskilde, Denmark: The so-called international community is not really conscious of Israel's problems. Leaving Gaza will be commented at least in twenty different ways. The question now is, as you have put it, if Israel will emerge strengthened by this move. In spite of all the pain, the answer is yes. Gaza was a major liability in Israel's life; what little asset it represented is no longer important. The greater profit is to let the world - the international community - see what Palestinians will NOT be capable of. Terror groups will continue to rule. They will kill each other for a long period of time. What is most important is that the ugly face of Muslim fundamentalism, unfortunately shared by most Arabs, will be seen in the open by that international community that refused to see it for decades. Israel's right to live in peace within secure borders will be acknowledged by all the nations with the exception of Muslim states. Their fundamentalist elements who are not a minority are already waging war against the Western World and not only against Israel. Everybody who has eyes to see and ears to hear will see their arrogant and "imperialist" philosophy which can be summarized as "become a Muslim or die". They will be stopped by the same means they are using themselves: FORCE! The second advantage is tactical: Israel can strike at this open target with the full firepower of the army, if and when it wishes to do so, when Palestinians continue their attacks on Israel screaming for its destruction. Murray Rowley, New Zealand: I find it difficult to imagine that the Palestinians will be better off in Gaza without the stabilizing presence of a Jewish community. It may be that more blood will be shed there now than ever before. A. Nudman, White Plains, NY, USA: Sad, shameful and the biggest of all desecrations of the Name of G-d in recent history. The consequences are yet to come. Esther Kaufman, Ashdod, Israel: The withdrawal from Gaza is a fatal error that has dramatically signified to the Palestinians that terror brings them victory. Retreat from our Jewish land has set a dangerous precedent, in which the Palestinians are emboldened to carry out their plan, which is the decimation of Israel in stages. We do not understand why Israel cowers to public opinion worldwide, instead of openly declaring who the enemy is, fighting the enemy and behaving like a proud, sovereign people protecting its citizens in its own country. In our own state, our so-called leaders act like frightened Diaspora Jews bending and scraping in order to appease the host country. Proponents of disengagement naively and narrow-mindedly claim that if the Palestinians engage in further terror, the Israelis will fight them in response. I only wish this were the case and we could openly declare war on the enemy. Since we have made ourselves tragically vulnerable to what the world thinks of us, when the Palestinians continue the bus bombings we will not lift a finger and we will continue going like lambs to the slaughter because the world will not let us. Rabbi Yakov Lazaros, Framingham, MA, USA: The withdrawal from Gaza was the worst mistake since the founding of the state. Already the Arabs have begun firing Kassam rockets at Israel. World opinion will not change. The Arabs and the European Union are already criticizing Israel for not having done enough. Mr. Arbee, USA: You would hope that peace would prevail, but the actions of the Palestinians in burning down the synagogue in Netzarim and the comments by Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh and your peace partner Mahmoud Abbas don't sound too encouraging. Hopefully the Israelis and the innocent Palestinians don't suffer from the decisions that were made, because now the enemy has been brought closer to your gates. Chaim Brautigam, Shippensburg, PA, USA: It was a very sad day when Israeli troops pulled out of the Gaza Strip. Israel is beginning to tread down the same slippery path that Czechoslovakia did in 1938, and anybody who knows their history knows what happened to Czechoslovakians afterwards. I understand the sentiments of those who felt exhausted after maintaining administrative control over close to 2 million Palestinians in an area the size of the District of Columbia. However, this alternative is preferable to the prospect of a Hamas-dominated, al-Qaeda supported, enclave right on Israel's doorstep. The efforts by President Bush to encourage and support this pullout go counter to the basic premises of the war on terror. President Bush has almost kicked al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan, only for it to reappear on Israel's doorstep. The Gaza pullout only rewards terror, and it has grossly undermined Bush's war on terror. I believe that Israel will be facing a situation much like that between 1993 and 2000, where Israel makes concessions with virtually nothing in return. It is time for the believers in the "New Middle East" to face reality, and for Israeli Prime Ministers to realize that until there is a major change in the overall Arab attitude, they will not be the Prime Minister that will bring peace to Israel. Menachem Litenatsky, Los Angeles, CA, USA: As our country is torn apart by the withdrawal which displaced many of our families, my question is not why we left but how? How did it come to be considered as terrorist attacks continued? How did it come to be considered when Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the rest have said over and over that they will stop killing only after all of Israel is empty of Jews/Israeli's? How did it come to be considered that Jews in a Jewish country have less rights and are even vilified when all they did by living in Gaza was make it blossom and protect us by creating a buffer? How did it come to be considered that "Palestine" is real? History shows us that it was created, and should you feel we have to honor this creation, why would it negate a Jews right to live in Gaza. My best friends father was a Jew. He was also a "Palestinian." If Israel is not a Jewish state then we certainly cannot make any claims to the land. If Israel continues to retreat from its core morals and values as it has under the Sharon government then we will not be able to stem the tide and we will be a banished people once more. So leaving Gaza is only a symptom. The real tragedy is our abandonment of our character and identity. Yoel Nitzarim, Skokie, Illinois, USA: With great sadness for thousands of Israelis, Israel left behind the Gaza Strip with nothing to show for this evacuation other than a goodwill measure, the hope that the Palestinians will determine to stop their quest for the entire land of Israel and disarm the terrorist organizations in their midst. The world should salute Israel's sheer courage in such a monumental move in the name of peace. Many countries who have looked askance at Israel in the past may very well affirmatively rethink their perspective about a tiny country which is willing to put so much on the line without any reciprocal compensation from its neighbor at this point in time. Hatikvah for the settlers who have left Gaza, Hatikvah for all of Israel! Leesa Goren, Petach Tikva, Israel: Unfortunately, I am pessimistic about this unilateral step. I don't believe that the international community will give Israel any credit at all for this painful step. Your paper has already published accounts that Europe considers us to be occupiers as long as we're in the West Bank, so that we can expect no understanding on anything we might have to do to counter terrorism from Gaza. And we have been condemned by Condoleezza Rice for not destroying the synagogues in the Gaza Strip with no appreciation of everything else we destroyed. I hope I'm wrong, but I see only continued attacks by the Palestinians until we leave Palestine (and they don't mean the West Bank only). Leaving Gaza only encouraged them to continue their "holy way" and now they are closer. Last night they published the number of people killed in Gaza over the last 38 years, and it was laughably small to have generated all the rhetoric about our soldiers dying in Gaza to protect a handful of Israelis. We kill more people in six months on the road than in 38 years in Gaza. New York, NY, USA: The first and most important rule governing relations between nations is power. Without it, legal standing has little meaning. The power of a nation is made up of many elements; military force and economic prowess among them. But the most important element in determining the power of a nation, is the will power and determination of the people to stand up and fight for what is theirs. In the last few decades several factors have converge to undermine Israel's resolve. First, the people of Israel have been bombarded to the point of being brainwashed with anti-Israel propaganda by a media that is overwhelmingly anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish, and is infused with secularism; and utopian ideas of an international brotherhood of man, for whom the idea of Israel is blasphemy. Second, more recently the corrupt, and bankrupt, leadership of Sharon with his flip-flopping Disengagement scheme has done much to confuse and undermined the resolve of Israeli national will. The legality of surrendering Israeli control over the Gaza strip (there was no occupation because you can hardly occupy your own land) is of little significance when compared to these realities. G.E, Canada: Whether the occupation is over or not, is the wrong question! The fact that Israel pulled out of Gaza will not take us any closer to peace. In the known history, peace was never negotiated, it was always imposed by the victor. See WW1 & WW2, in the absence of a final decisive victory by one of the parties, the conflict will go on and on ... A good comparison would be to a boxing match without time limit and without a KO. Jonathan Berliner, New York, NY, USA: Closing the gates of Gaza only strengthens the Palestinian terror organizations. Because the withdrawal was unilateral, doves on the Israeli and Palestinian left lost. However, by the Arab world depicting this as a "retreat," then Israel has effectively strengthened the resolve of the militant terrorist organizations. Schneider, Washington State, USA: The presence [in Gaza] was vital in the sense that the land belongs to Israel. Sharon should not divide the land, making a de-facto statement that terrorism works, and that Israel will wilt under international pressure. I doubt the world views Israel any differently than it did a year ago. Dan Leubitz, Teaneck, NJ, USA: As a US citizen I am nervous about the precedent that Israel has now created. For decades we the free world have said in unison 'we will not negotiate with terrorists' The closing of Gaza today, in an abrupt change in policy, now tells those who hate freedom that we are able and willing to not just negotiate but to retreat in the face of constant terror. In my opinion, the closing of Gaza's gates has opened the gates of terrorists to the free world. Abdel Karim Salim Sharif, Jerusalem, Israel: The way I view it is that in the long run Israel will benefit a lot by leaving the Gaza Strip. Israel has shown that it is willing to sacrifice territory for the sake of terminating the Palestinian problem peacefully. From a security perspective Israel still has the Gaza's valve of life in its hands since the border crossings are still controlled by Israel, along with the water supply and Gaza's airspace. Economically, Israel will be soon watching with relish as the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip start struggling economically. Gaza's economy could never stand on its own feet unless the Palestinians of Gaza are allowed to cross to Israel for work, and unless Gaza's agricultural products are allowed to be exported to Israel and Jordan. Should the so-called "radical organizations" of Gaza continue, harassing Israel by firing at Israeli targets, the Gaza Strip would, in such a case, be digging its grave with its own hands. Geographically and demographically Israel obviously does not need to control a tin of sardines, that is a narrow strip of land packed with 1.5 million Palestinians. Geographically, the Gaza Strip is not of any strategic importance. And finally Gaza will certainly remain between the joint Israeli-Egyptian pincer of security system. Ron Levin, San Diego, CA, USA: The symbolic locking of the gates at Machsom Kissufim emphasizes that the Palestinians will now be left to rot in a hell of their own making. Their behavior, in just a day and a half, demonstrates to the world that they are devoid of leadership, composure and direction. The deafening silence of the world as they burned down the remnants of the shuls and yeshivot will contrast to the outbursts one would anticipate if a mosque was even entered in an inappropriate fashion. It is now up to Egypt to re-colonize the Strip, and rule it with a heavy hand. What Israel achieved in Gaza was to demonstrate how agriculture and industry can thrive in such a zone. That was our biggest single achievement. A permanent presence was untenable. I lived in Nahal Sinai 32 years ago and traveled through every corner of Gaza. Our hothouses and light industry, our exports and our sheer will to survive, and thrive, in the midst of such hostility is a remarkable achievement, indicative of a still thriving streak of halutziut after 57 plus years of statehood. D, USA: Israel will not know peace until she gets her people out of the West Bank, lock stock and barrel, and the UN takes over Jerusalem (all of it). The Palestinians will not know peace until they stop fomenting the desire for the destruction of Israel in their children. The arrogance and greed on both sides of this debacle is appalling. Equally disgusting is the fact that Europe, the US and the UK, the powers that arbitrarily carved unnatural borders into the whole middle east a hundred years ago, don't step up and take the blame. We promised the Arab peoples independence in exchange for help against the Ottomans and the Nazis, and then at the same time telling the early Zionists to go ahead in there and build a homeland. It was never ours to give away, to either party. We are now reaping the bitter harvest that our collective hubris sowed. Ben Solomon , New York, USA: We always hear Palestinian and Arab remarks about the "Israeli occupation" for over 37 years. We need to emphasize that Israel got these lands when Egypt, Syria and Jordan threatened to destroy it after amassing tanks and troops at it's small borders. Israel rightly held onto the lands till it could secure reasonable peace treaties and secure borders, which the ongoing hostilities showed it needed. These lands also have historic Jewish value and it was only right that now Jews too had the right to live in these lands. That Israel fully withdrew even though Abbas still vows he'll never disarm or disband Hamas, and other Palestinian terrorist groups that purposely killed civilian men, women and children, and that Israel left Egypt to protect it on the Gaza-Egypt border from Palestinian terrorists shows it was US pressure that caused this. S.M. Fine, New York City, USA:I was in Israel visiting with my family during the Gaza disengagement. It had been 19 years since my last visit. despite the fact that the majority of Israelis agreed with the disengagement, we were deeply moved by the compassion displayed by all segments of the population. We hope the world took notice of the sensitivity used by everyone related to the disengagement, and the humanity of the people. Israel needs some serious public relations! Showing the world the realities of Israel as a country and society, along the painful disengagement, could help educate the world if done correctly. Berkley Honoroff, Matteson, IL, USA: I believe you made right move by getting out of Gaza. If the other side is smart enough to keep their word and stop the killing maybe their is a chance for peace. The Arabs must help rebuild a peaceful society. No more hate taught in schools. Real peace comes from trust with each other. Yaakov Zelig, New Orleans, USA: Gaza's Jews exported $100 Million of goods per annum. Divided by the number of adult Jews, the ratio is far superior to the exports by kibbutznik Jews. Furthermore, Gaza is sacred Jewish land, Tel Aviv is not. Mark, Boston, MA, USA: I think that Israel is stronger now for leaving Gaza. Israel never really wanted Gaza. It was more of a burden than anything else. But they will have to withdraw to the Pre-1967 borders. That's the only way there will be peace in the region. The Palestinians will have to have their state, eventually, and it will consist of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. It's inevitable. It will happen. As far as the Palestinians burning the synagogues, well Israel did vote to tear them down themselves, so Israel's intentions were there to destroy them. But it was a good publicity stunt to reverse its decision on that, hence the US scolding Israel for reversing its decision. Bud Allan, Hayward, CA, USA: As distasteful as it is to leave Gaza, I think that it will leave Israel in a more defensible position. We need to complete the wall, keep Israel Jewish, and let the Arabs (Palestinians as they want to be called) sort out their own problems. It is evident from history, that these people are incapable of building and sustaining anything approaching the success of Israel. The main thing that drives them is their jealousy of the Jewish people and the fact that they are totally inept at any meaningful imitation of their "brothers". Dennis Provda Great Neck, NY USA: I do not think Jews in Gaza strengthened Israel. Gaza was settled by default. When Egypt was defeated Gaza became part of the victory package. Not even Egypt wanted it back when the treaty was signed. Gaza was an escape valve for Israel. Let the Palestinians run the place into the ground. Let the world see the incompetence that the Palestinians bring to the table. There is a saying that "be careful G-d may grant your wish." Well, the Palestinians have their wish. As for the international community, Israel is always the problem. Cherrie Elmes, Italy: I am greatly disturbed about the Gaza withdrawal. I consider it insanity. It is unbelievable that an Israeli government, led by a PM who supported the Jewish presence in Gaza, has now betrayed his people. What other betrayals can we expect? It a betrayal of those hard-working, honest people who have built up something beautiful out or nothing. Israel's enemies have never renounced their intent to destroy her. Now their 'job' will be made much easier. The resettlement of the displaced people will weigh heavily on the nation, the wounds are open and festering. The world will not applaud Israel for this action, but will (and already has) demanded more concessions. It boggles the mind how anyone can think that this is a step towards peace. Rather the insane blindness of the western governments, the Quartet and so on will lead to more violence, not just in Israel, but around the world as has already happened. The people of Israel need to wake up to the fact that the world will not suddenly become more sympathetic to them. Their so-called 'friends' will not come to the rescue when attacks against them increase. There is however, a difference between governments and the man in the street. Whilst large numbers of people are sympathetic to the poor Palestinians, many ordinary, fair-minded, thinking people can see through this charade. Dr. Allan Farber, Hashmonaim, Israel: Israel is certainly in a weaker position now that Israel has no control in Gaza strip. The terrorists will base themselves in Gaza and infiltrate into Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), probably by taking advantage of further Israeli concessions such as a "free passage", rebuilding the airport, building a deep water port which will only increase the smuggling of weapons and explosives added to those smuggled over the Egyptian border. Millions of shekels have already been allocated to fortify rooftops against missiles. Israel should expect terror to increase and defend herself from terror attacks in the center of the country, Afula, Kfar Saba, Modiin, Jerusalem and the new Ben Gurion airport. Given that Israel spends zero effort by the foreign ministry to improve her image, any gains in the international front will be small and short lived. In a short time, there will be pressure to uproot more settlements in response to Arab murder and terror. The only solution I see is to unite Israel, increase her sense of national pride, invest in re-education of her own citizens and the rest of the world that Arabs, and Palestinians in particular, are not interested in a state which they could have had any time, but to destroy the State of Israel. Sy Dill, Providence, RI, USA: Gaza is Oslo redux! If it was `peace' that we abandoned Gaza and the 8000 Jewish settlers and their homes for, we will find war. If it was a more democratic state with defensible borders that was the aim of this voluntary retreat, we will find war. Now watch the drumbeats by everyone including Israelis, to leave the West Bank immediately. We will then find war. Rabbi Elie and Chaya Estrin, Chabad at University of Washington: BH We are a brilliant nation. We constantly think of new and innovative ways to shoot ourselves in the foot. And when we're done with the foot, we find ourselves looking forward to ridding ourselves of these cumbersome legs too. Has anyone noticed that the more we give away, the more we suffer?! And this is documented! Here is a government committing national suicide, and people mindlessly follow its rhetoric: "Now, the Palestinians will have to show that they really want peace!" How many times have we heard that since 1993? How can we be so blind to the danger? In 1993, Peres and Rabin were foolish, but na ve. They had no track record to base themselves on. Now, with the "moderates" torching the synagogues of Gaza, everything should be crystal clear. Yet we still have massive amounts of people believing the unbelievable. I appreciate the Palestinian's honesty they are telling us clearly that they want to kill us. Yet we, the brilliant people, refuse to believe them despite their readiness to show off their hatred and murderous intent with actual action. It's time that we cast off the shackles and begin to defend ourselves. In order to that, it's time we begin to believe in ourselves, and rid ourselves of the notion that we are "occupiers". We are Jews living in our land and if anyone doesn't like it, they should be given only one option: leave. Na vet is one thing; suicide is another. Yehuda Bar-Katz, London, UK: Gaza will be known always as the region which failed in terms of Zionist pioneering. Gush Katif needed more people to survive in the long-term, for a left-wing government to justify its presence there. Gush Katif should serve as a warning to the Yesha Council that Judea and the rest of Samaria will be under stake if Sharon remains in power, and they should try and declare sovereignty there, as the government of Israel no longer represents their type of Zionist ideological interests, thus they should separate and build a state around the settlements. Referring back to Gaza, it will now become a hotbed for Islamic terrorism and Israel will be forced to retake the area, where they will crush and destroy the Arab presence once and for all. Finally, the withdrawal wont help Israel's standing in the world, as it made Israel look very weak, since it was unilateral and under fire/terrorism, further weakening our claim to the full land of Israel, thus making the world community forcing us to give other parts of our land. Joel Joseph, London: I believed in the disengagement at the outset. However, the dictatorial behavior of Mr. Sharon in conducting a totally undemocratic bullying of the opposition, and the supine resignation of the cabinet destroyed any semblance of a just and compassionate understanding of the feelings of those Israelis who had given thirty years of their lives in developing a region at the behest of their government. The withdrawal from Gaza would have been approved by the majority had there been a referendum, and therefore as a consequence the bitter irony and frustration as sad as it was would have been fully shared by everyone. If Mr. Sharon and his entourage think that the junket to the UN celebrations will usher a new era for Israel at the World body then he is in for a rude shock. The Palestinians will continue their murderous aggression on the pretence of the Israeli occupation of Judeah and Samaria. The Europeans and the Islamic nations will join in total support for further Israeli concessions. The naivety of the Israeli Government defies belief. To have conceded under pressure without any irrevocable commitment from the Palestinian Authority for a peaceful resolution and a complete disarmament of the militants will only lead to more tragedy.