Over the past year, I have been to Sderot often, following the Kassam rockets. I climb up to the mayor’s office, on the second floor of the municipality building, and catch Mayor Eli Moyal in a combative mood. “What do you think,” he lashes out, “that after the withdrawal from Gush Katif no Kassam rockets will fall on Sderot?”

They will fall, I say, they will definitely fall. Perhaps even more than now.

“Then who needs this f—ing disengagement,” Moyal snaps.

I look at his eyes, red from a night of Kassam rockets and a morning of interviews to every possible channel. He chain smokes, and drinks cup after cup of black coffee. Moyal lives on the edge. When there are no Kassam rockets he is bored. When there are Kassams the situation is tough and bitter. Like many Sderot residents, he says that if the IDF would only stick it to them, stick it to them good, for once and for all, the Kassam rockets would disappear.

Moyal does not really believe in an instant solution. He is too sophisticated. But he needs an outlet. Why should we criticize him when Netanyahu, the pretender to the throne, sells the same illusions.

Disengagement did not solve the routine security problem of the communities around Gaza. In a certain sense, it worsened it: Disengagement brought a large quantity of weapons and ammunition into the Gaza Strip; it wiped the settlements off the map, which were an easy and tempting target. Thousands of mortar shells were fired at Gush Katif since 2000. The evacuation took them out of range. The mortar shell era is over. The age of Kassam has begun.

If anyone thought that months of quiet would elapse until the Gazans digested the additional territory and freedom that they were given, they were forced to rethink over the weekend: The volley of Kassam rockets left a strong sense of deja vu…

In Sharon’s eyes, the main recompense for disengagement is in the area of foreign policy: It enabled him to bypass the road map, to buy a good reputation and time, free himself from the responsibility for Gaza and persuade President Bush to make it a test case for the competence of the Palestinian Authority, a test that Sharon is convinced the PA will fail. The rampage of Kassam rockets over the weekend only strengthens Sharon’s view that there is no real partner on the Palestinian side.

These are elusive, temporary achievements. The disengagement initiative has only one lasting, tangible, conclusive outcome for the time being: The settlements have been wiped out…The Kassam rockets are not part of this arrangement. Unfortunately, neither is Sderot…

This piece ran in Yediot on September 26th, 2005

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