Gaza Envelope

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The Gaza Envelope (Hebrew: עוטף עזה, Otef Aza) encompasses the populated areas in the Southern District of Israel that are within 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) of the Gaza Strip border and are therefore within range of mortar shells and Qassam rockets launched from the Gaza Strip.[1]

A Merkava Mark IV tank patrols the Gaza border (February 2012)
The reach of the rockets from Gaza

History edit

The border between Israel and the Gaza Strip was established in the 1949 Armistice Agreement between Israel and Egypt, signed at the end of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and was further defined in the agreement of February 1950. Many settlements on the Israeli side of the border (such as Sa'ad and Nirim) were established even before that, while others (such as Sderot and Nahal Oz) were founded not long after the demarcation of the border. However, the term "Gaza Envelope" has been applied to these communities only in the 21st century.

Following the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, there was an increase in cross-border shelling and rocket attacks into Israel.[2] Data collected by the Israeli Security Agency showed an increase in shelling from 401 shells in 2005 rising year-on-year to 2,048 in 2008 before falling back to 569 in 2009.[2] In response to the increase in shelling, in 2007 the Knesset passed the "Assistance to Sderot and the Western Negev (Temporary Provision) Law, 2007",[3] which recognized these communities (and additional communities in the area designated by the Minister of Finance's order[4]) as "Confrontation-line Communities" and gave them special privileges (temporarily, until the end of 2008). Additional legislative measures extended the validity of some of the benefits, with certain changes, until the end of 2014.[5] This area came to be known colloquially as the "Gaza Envelope."[citation needed]

In June 2014, it was reported that the Home Front Command decided to cut the budget of the Coordinators of Comprehensive Security ("Ravshatzim") in communities in the Gaza Envelope. Leaders of the authorities in the Gaza Envelope turned to the Minister of Defense, Moshe Ya'alon, in a letter to cancel this decision.[6] Shortly thereafter, the 2014 Gaza War began, during which the communities in the Gaza Envelope were subjected to rocket and mortar attacks. In addition, combat tunnels were exposed, penetrating from the Gaza Strip into Israel, and there were several incidents where militants entered through the tunnels and attacked IDF soldiers. As a result of the fighting, many residents evacuated their homes.[7]

In the 2014 Gaza War, impacts to residents in the Gaza Envelope was greater than that of other Israeli citizens, due to their exposure to short-range rocket fire, extensive mortar shelling, and several casualties. Another threat to the residents of the Gaza periphery was the underground tunnels from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Many such tunnels were destroyed in the 2014 Gaza War, and the excavation and destruction continued in the years that followed.

After several years of calm following the 2014 Gaza War, during which plans were made for the emergency evacuation of communities in the Gaza Envelope,[8] on March 30, 2018, clashes began at the Gaza–Israel barrier – a series of mass protests in the Gaza Strip.

Damage caused by fire-kites, launched from the Gaza Strip

As part of the protests, Palestinian activists and militants clashed with the Israel Defense Forces near the system fence around the Gaza Strip. Thousands of Palestinians approached the fence, with some throwing stones and Molotov cocktail and explosive devices. The events continued since then,[when?] including the launching of incendiary kites from the Gaza Strip into Israel with the aim of igniting areas beyond the fence. As a result hundreds of fires occurred in the Gaza Envelope, burning hundreds of hectares of fields and forests, as well as agricultural facilities.

In August 2018, hundreds of rockets and mortar shells were fired towards communities in the Gaza Envelope.[9]

Hamas attack in 2023 and rebuilding edit

In the 2023 Hamas-led attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, attackers from the Gaza Strip infiltrated many communities in the Gaza Envelope, murdering hundreds of people, kidnapping hundreds including elderly, kids and babies, and pregnant women, and causing extensive damage.[10] Over 1,200 rockets were fired at the city of Ashkelon as of October 24. Therefore Ashkelon was designated as a community whose residents and business owners are entitled to compensation from the state also for indirect war damages caused to them for one year.

The attack by Hamas initiated the 2023 Israel–Hamas war. Most residents were evacuated to various locations throughout Israel, while there was also a gradual reopening of operations in the different communities.[11] The attack solidified a breakdown in trust between Gaza Envelope residents and the Israeli state, as residents blame the state for failing to protect them from years of rocket fire and ultimately, infiltration by Palestinian armed militants. Many residents expressed unwillingness to return to their homes until full security was ensured by the Israeli state.[12]

The Israeli government on October 19 created a new agency called the Tekuma (Revival) Administration to rebuild the communities devastated by the October 7 attacks. The agency had a 5-year mandate and was headed by Moshe Edri, chairman of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, who reported directly to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The agency's focus was the regional councils within 7 kilometers of Gaza: Eshkol, Hof Ashkelon, Sdot Negev, and Sha’ar HaNegev. The government allocated $308 million to the agency, charged with physically rebuilding the destroyed areas, improve trust in the government, and serve as a "unified central response."[12]

The Israeli government subsequently approved a 5-year $4.9 billion plan to rehabilitate and develop the Gaza Envelope area. Returning residents who receive up to $275,000, depending on how close to the border they live, and new residents would be eligible for up to $137,000. The plan called for a discount on the municipal property tax, a temporary corporate tax cut, and preferential treatment for local vendors.[13]

Gaza Envelope communities edit

The following communities were included in the list of communities in southern confrontation line area, published by the Israel Tax Authority:[14]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Drory, Zeev; Lewin, Eyal; Ben-Ari, Eyal (2017). "Kibbutz under fire: Back to the days of sickle and bayonet". Israel Studies. 22 (2). Indiana University Press: 121–144. doi:10.2979/israelstudies.22.2.06. S2CID 152266326.
  2. ^ a b Shechory Bitton, Mally; Laufer, Avital (2018). "Children's emotional and behavioral problems in the shadow of terrorism: The case of Israel". Children and Youth Services Review. 86 (86). Elsevier Ltd: 302–307. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.01.042.
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-11. Retrieved 2013-02-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-12-07. Retrieved 2013-02-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "הדף המבוקש אינו קיים". Archived from the original on 30 September 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  6. ^ חדשות (2014-06-19). "ראשי הרשויות בעוטף עזה: לבטל החלטת הקיצוץ ברכזי ביטחון". Ynet (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2023-12-02.
  7. ^ "תושבי עוטף עזה עזבו בגלל המנהרות - והמדינה לא הפעילה את תוכנית הפינוי". TheMarker. August 3, 2014.
  8. ^ "N12 - בעימות הבא: "24 שעות לפינוי"". N12. 2016-07-10. Retrieved 2023-12-02.
  9. ^ "בין מס רכוש לבין המחשבות על פינוי: יום הלחימה של תושבי עוטף עזה". הארץ (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2023-12-02.
  10. ^ Newman, Rachel Wilson, Rosa deAcostaNoya, Alex Leeds Matthews, Alexandra (2023-11-07). "One month's death toll in the Israel-Hamas war, in charts". CNN. Retrieved 2023-12-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ זומר, נווית (2023-11-08). "חודש אחרי האסון: מפעל כפרית בכפר עזה חזר לפעול". Ynet (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2023-12-02.
  12. ^ a b Keller-Lynn, Carrie (2023-10-19). "Government sets up NIS 1 billion fund to rehab shattered Gaza border region". Times of Israel. Retrieved 16 February 2024.
  13. ^ Sokol, Sam (2023-12-27). "Gaza border reconstruction proposal wins backing from coalition, opposition MKs". Times of Israel. Retrieved 16 February 2024.
  14. ^ "Section A: A list of settlements whose residents are entitled to a tax break in the tax year 2012" (PDF). Israel Tax Authority. Retrieved 2017-08-11.