January 13The defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, meets with representatives of donor countries and international humanitarian organizations and requests that they act to prevent the total collapse of the Palestinian Authority.
February 2Prime Minister Sharon announces the disengagement plan. At the heart of the plan is the withdrawal of army forces from the Gaza Strip and the evacuation of all the settlements there, as well as the evacuation of four settlements (Ganim, Kadim, Homesh, and Sa-Nur) and a few military posts in the northern West Bank. In light of Israel’s determination that “there is no Palestinian partner with whom it would be possible to carry out the peace process bilaterally,” the government decides to implement the disengagement unilaterally. Under the plan, Israel continues to control the air and sea space of the Gaza Strip and essentially maintains power over the Gaza Strip by “remote control.” Despite this, the government of Israel’s decision states that “completion of the plan will negate the force of arguments against Israel as to its responsibility for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip” and emphasizes that, as a result of implementation of the plan, “there will be no basis for the claim that the Gaza Strip is occupied territory.”
FebruaryFollowing a decision to move its route westward, Israel dismantles a section of the Separation Wall east of Baqa a-Sharqiya and runs the section more or less along the Green Line.
FebruaryWork beings on the sunken road between Qalqiliya and Habla, a harbinger of the Everything Flows plan to build a system of separate roads, one set for Israelis and another for Palestinians, that the press will expose in February 2006.
MarchA committee headed by Reserve Brigadier General Baruch Spiegel, which was appointed to examine the operation of the checkpoints, submits its report to the defense minister. The committee identifies many problems and recommends a reform that will include the establishment of clear procedures for the handling of the Palestinian population, stringent attention to the rules of ethical conduct at checkpoints, a prohibition on beatings, punishment, and humiliation, and reduction of the sweeping movement restrictions in both time and space. Only some of the recommendations are implemented.
March 22Israel eliminates the Hamas leader, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. Yassin was a spiritual and political leader, an old, handicapped man in a wheelchair. The assassination marks Israel's decision to ignore the difference between armed and unarmed members of the Palestinian organizations.
MayIsrael places a new condition on issuing permits for Palestinian Israelis to stay in the Gaza Strip as part of the “divided families’ procedure”: Israelis entering the Gaza Strip must remain there at least three months.
MayIDF bulldozers destroy 298 houses in the Rafah refugee camp. Some thirty-eight hundred Palestinians lose their homes. In October, Human Rights Watch contends that sixteen thousand persons, almost 10 percent of Rafah’s population, lost their homes during the second intifada.
June 23A World Bank report states that donors have more than doubled their disbursement levels prior to the intifada, providing an average of $950 million per annum in 2001–3. Of the estimated $713 million spent in 2002–3 on welfare instruments (food, cash support, job creation), some 97 percent was donor financed.
June 30The High Court of Justice gives its decision in Beit Sourik, in which it nullifies for the first time a section of the Wall on the grounds that the route chosen fails to meet the principle of proportionality, whereby there must be a balance between the security gain and the injury to Palestinians. The court orders the state to propose an alternate route.
JulyIsrael seeks to apply the Absentee Property Law in East Jerusalem, under which the property of Palestinian refugees is transferred to the state's custodian of absentee property. The law, whose application had in the past been frozen in East Jerusalem, opens the way to a vast expropriation of property. Following criticism from jurists, the plan is scrapped.
July 9The International Court of Justice in The Hague gives its decision on the Separation Wall, holding that it is illegal and must be dismantled.
October 6Dov Weisglass, Prime Minister Sharon’s chief advisor, admits in an interview that Israel initiated the disengagement to freeze the peace process.
November 11Yasser Arafat dies in a hospital in Paris at age seventy-five. In the preceding weeks, there were conflicting reports about his medical condition and persisting rumors that claimed that he was poisoned.
The Military Police set up the “crossings apparatus.” Checkpoints along the line of thenSeam Zone and in the Nablus area are now operated by specialist military units that receive training in carrying out security checks and in human rights.