Israel’s plan to retreat from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria proves unrelenting Islamic terrorism has weakened the Jewish state in a way five full-scale wars failed to do, a senior Hamas official said Thursday.
"The painful and qualitative blows which the Palestinian resistance dealt to the Jews and their soldiers over the past four-and-a-half years led to the decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip," Ahmed al-Bahar, a top Hamas leader, was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying.
"The suicide attacks…have taken their tolls on the Jews, both psychologically and economically, in addition to the high number of casualties,” he continued.
Bahar said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s “disengagement” plan was a sign Israel had been morally defeated by its Arab Islamic foes.
“All indications show that since its establishment, Israel has never been in such a state of retreat and weakness as it is today following more than four years of the intifada,” he told reporters.
“The withdrawal marks the end of the Zionist dream and is a sign of the moral and psychological decline of the Jewish state. We believe that [terrorism] is the only way to pressure the Jews.”
When Sharon first announced his plan last year, he insisted Israel would retreat from a position of strength and that quitting Gaza would increase security for the nation’s Jewish population.
Sharon also claimed the disengagement would help Israel to retain sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria.
But many Israelis fear the Arabs will use the precedent set by the pullout to press their advantage.
Former Sharon aide Ra’anan Levy wrote last month that Israel was sending the disastrous message that “We are giving the Palestinians what is theirs and we are taking out our own people who settled on Arab territory.”
Sharon, Levy noted, “will further harm the Jewish claim of historic rights to the land, and he will cement even further the international claim that only Jews moving in one direction, over the rubble of their own homes, can be the foundation for peace.”