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Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called for the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2003 with the stated purpose of improving Israeli security and reducing the military burden of protecting 8,000 Israelis living among 1.5 million Palestinians. Known in Israel as “the disengagement plan,” 21 Israeli settlements from Gaza, and four settlements from the West Bank, were evacuated and their inhabitants compensated to relocate. While a majority of Israelis polled in favor of the plan, it caused a major rift in Sharon’s Likud Party and entrenched a kind of political culture war that is still ongoing between pro-settlement factions and others.  The move led to the formation of the Kadima Party, which became the largest party in the Knesset in the 2006 election. Tens of thousands of Israelis protested the plan as part of the national religious “orange ribbon” movement whose slogan was “Jews don’t expel Jews.” After the withdrawal, Palestinians assumed control of the Strip – but not of the crossings, airspace or territorial waters. Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal of Israeli civilians from Gaza is often invoked in debates about the viability of a two-state solution, which would involve an Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank.

Learn the history of the occupation so that we can overcome it, because #50isEnough.

The occupation has gone on for 50 years. It’s a problem that must be addressed for Israel’s sake and for the Palestinians. Over 5 decades and in every month of the year, Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and others have made their mark on reality. Telling these stories is part of how our movement grows stronger. This series marks the watershed moments we all need to know about.