Gaza (The Inside Palestine)-On this day 16 years ago, 12 September 2005, the last soldier left the Gaza Strip and evacuated with them the settlers who had ended the occupation of the Strip from 1967 to 2005.
During their occupation of Gaza, Israel occupied 34% of the land and controlled the most important fertile agricultural lands, groundwater and the coast.
But during the confrontation in the intifada, the settlements were subjected to fierce and stubborn resistance, which led to Israel declaring its intention to withdraw from the settlements of the Gaza Strip and dismantle all its presence there. On 15 August 2005, Israel began its ‘disengagement’ from the Gaza Strip, which it had occupied since the Six Day War of 1967.
Immediately after the withdrawal, the Palestinian government paved the way for re-allocating the occupied parts of Gaza for communal use. Streets and areas were renamed, the names of the old settlements removed, and agricultural land repurposed so as to provide up to 80% of the vegetable and fruit consumed by the residents of Gaza.
The land and infrastructure in those settlements were also repurposed to serve the entirety of Gaza – from water desalination plants, establishment of hospitals and health centres, letting of large residential buildings such as Hamad Town in Khan Yunis, and educational centres such as Al-Aqsa University, University College and Al-Azhar.