Ironically, while the international community and even Israel continue to maintain that the 2005 Gaza pullout was a good thing, Hamas is making an indirect argument on why the forced evacuation of nearly 10,000 Jews from the coastal strip was a foolish move.
In the run-up to the Gaza pullout, Israeli leaders promised the nation that by making such a sacrifice, Israel would buy itself a reprieve from Palestinian violence, and if the attacks did not end, the world would finally support Israel in its justified military response. The international community at the time fully backed that position, and insisted that the Israeli gesture would kick-start the peace process.
Of course, by now we all know that what happened was the exact opposite of all those flowery-worded promises. Attacks on Israel from Gaza increased, the group carrying out the majority of those attacks (Hamas) became so popular that it won control of the Palestinian parliament in elections held 18 months after the pullout, and when Israel did eventually respond to the escalating attacks with overwhelming military force, the world harshly condemned the Jewish state.
Hamas is now saying that no one should be surprised by this outcome, because it was the very presence of Jews in Gaza that kept things relatively quiet in the area, as compared to Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank"), which prior to 2005 saw far more violence than Gaza.
While meeting with leaders from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' rival Fatah movement, Gaza-based Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar rejected a reconciliation deal that called on Hams to adopt non-violent resistance to Israel, as opposed to armed confrontation. Zahar pointed out that since there are no Jews living in Gaza, Hamas has no one against whom to conduct peaceful protests.
"Against whom could we demonstrate in the Gaza Strip?" Zahar asked. "When Gaza was occupied [sic] that model was applicable."
So, even Hamas acknowledges that a strong Jewish presence in Gaza was a recipe for less, not more violence. Meanwhile, Israeli leaders keep their heads buried in the sand on this point.
Another missed lesson - this time by the international community - stemming from this revelation is that an independent, Jew-free Palestinian state (as Abbas is demanding) will not live in peaceful coexistence with Israel. Any time the Palestinians feel their demands are not adequately being met, they will resort to cross-border violence, while insisting they have no other recourse.