R’ANANA, ISRAEL – While the disengagement anywhere was difficult to watch, it was even more so in the settlements where there was minimal disobedience. It involved settlers crying, police crying, soldiers crying and yes, even a few from the media seemed to be moved by what was going on. The sights and scenes during the disengagement were upsetting and disturbing, but not nearly as bad as anyone expected. Noticing this, Israelis breathed a collective sigh of relief and there seemed to be relative calm. Seemed.
Then I went into Gaza. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke at and attended a few victory parades inside of Gaza. The messages he spoke and then broadcast throughout Israel made disengagement out to be the first step towards the elimination of Israel – or at least that is how it was interpreted.
In Israel, many seem to feel that the withdrawal from Gaza was a positive step and one that will be beneficial in the future, but few even come close to mentioning peace as the result of the recent events. This, of course, is even before a bombing in Be’er Sheva or a string of recent shootings. Even so, many Israelis remain very optimistic because the country was not divided even if the ruling Likud party was.
The conflict dominates life on both sides as well as the news. Now that the disengagement is complete, or at least phase-one, everyone is holding their breath for the next step at the same time praying that the fragile peace will hold out.
The feeling within Israel is that they have embarked on a significant step and that now there is a chance for the Palestinian Authority to prove themselves a worthy interlocutor for peace. So far, Abbas has lacked the ability to control the factions and make a unified front that can stick to one message.
In Gaza there is much rejoicing as to the soon-to-be-regained land of the former settlements, but at the same time there is much tension as to who is going to control the land. With the chance for so much power and sovereignty to be decided, it is apparent on the ground that there is much tension about who will claim power and at the same time if the different factions will fall in line, even though the different factions are aiming for the same goal.
On both sides there is much internal strife as both have upcoming elections. Both sides are rife with uncertainty to as to the political futures of the major parties.
It seems like one of the few things that both sides agree on is that the end of the conflict is a long way off, and the biggest issues have yet to be breached or even imagined as of yet. As always, the region is filled with an unsure future that most people believe will hold continued hostilities on both sides.
-The writer, a former Hatchet photo editor, is currently stationed in Israel working as a photographer for the Israel Sun.