The main problem with disengagement from Gaza was taking away the Israeli secret services’ liberty to operate there. The IDF (including the Border Police) and Shabak keep a close eye on the Palestinian militants in the West Bank, and that was also the case in Gaza. Even the highest-ranking Palestinian officials sometimes squeak when admonished by special units. The freedom of Israeli operations in the West Bank cannot be discussed, but it is truly immense. All the mid-level Palestinian figures—and in some circumstances, all the top figures there—are susceptible to routine Israeli operations. Consider the enormous amount of clandestine work behind the services’ 99.97 percent success-rate in preventing terrorist operations.
The almost complete lack of Israeli Arab involvement in terrorism isn’t because of their loyalty, but is rather a product of the mammoth intelligence networks Israel has developed amongst her Arabs. When Israel commits to non-involvement in places like Jenin, the problem is not the few terrorist fugitives who would be able to hide there; the problem is the establishment of a safe haven relatively free from Israeli intelligence, a place where the terrorists can plan without fearing quick discovery.
Gaza became one big safe haven for terrorists, which accounts for the skyrocketing number of attacks from there. In terrorism, as in any industry, success feeds on itself. Like any enterprises, terrorist enterprises develop in clusters.
Ariel Sharon famously crushed Palestinian militants in Gaza in the early 1970s, carrying out hundreds of arrests and resettling about 160,000 Arabs. In 2008, Israel failed to pacify Gaza even though she jailed ten times more terrorists and killed a number comparable to Sharon’s. Massive resettlement, though not attempted in 2008, wouldn’t have helped either, as Hamas has already established a presence in all areas of possible resettlement. Israel and Jordan control the Palestinians militants in the West Bank, but the Israeli disengagement from Gaza created a perfect incubator there, and allowed Hamas to create what every terrorist dreams about: a safe haven. No less important was the cessation of collective punishment and harsh retaliation for every terrorist act, however minor. Gazans, long used to harsh retribution, found its absence almost rewarding. Anti-Israeli activity metastasized throughout Palestinian society, and currently the only way to curb that sentiment is killing that society—by expelling all the Palestinians.