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Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by LadyEagle, Sep 12, 2005.
Fox News Report:
An orgy of looting and arson
By MATTHEW GUTMAN
NEVEH DEKALIM, GAZA
Hours after the IDF rolled out, vans bristling with masked gunmen and blaring martial music rolled into this abandoned settlement, passing donkey carts laden with loot and families picnicking on yellowing lawns.
OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel officially ceded control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority on Monday evening, but by then the fate of Israel's settlements had long been sealed. By early Monday morning, tens of thousands swarmed the settlements celebrating what leaders here called "a day of rebirth of the Gaza Strip."
Students cut school, the terrorist groups carted out their homemade RPGs and prayed in the settlements' smoldering synagogues, the poor scavenged the settlement carcasses, and the PA police and other security forces watched.
Looters torched synagogues and ripped what they could from what were considered the settlements' sturdiest buildings.
The much-vaunted coordination between Israel and the PA appeared to collapse following what the PA claimed was an earlier than anticipated departure of troops. By mid-morning columns of black smoke twisted skyward marking where individual settlements had been.
For years, Palestinian sovereignty seemed only a dune away; the logic being that were it not for the settlers and their stranglehold on the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians could navigate toward a new future.
Khan Yunis Mayor Osama al-Farra toured the chaos at Neveh Dekalim and acknowledged that it wouldn't be that easy. "In the past, we complained that we could not do the work. Now we must do everything possible to develop the land, without the excuse of Israel or the settlements," he said.
An unusually candid politician, Farra had no illusions that the PA security forces would contain the curious masses streaming toward the settlements. Surveying the bulldozed buildings and the smoldering fires, Farra noted that "this place needs a lot of work."
As if punctuating his sentence, an Islamic Jihad gunman barely a car's length away aimed his AK-47 at a street lamp. Crack! He missed and fired again.
"That," Farra continued seamlessly, "is a good example. A lot of work indeed."
The Khan Yunis Municipality has drawn up ambitious plans to remodel Gush Katif into Gaza's Gold Coast, replete with a luxury hotel (or two). It will be several months before the rubble is cleared, and many more before there is any real change on the ground, said Farra.
One change was abundantly clear. Khan Yunis residents, unable to see their local beach for years, swarmed what had been the Gush Katif coast by the thousands.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom dubbed the chaotic scenes – which climaxed with clashes between Egyptian soldiers and Palestinian civilians at the Rafah border – and particularly the torching of the synagogues, a "barbaric act."
Bulldozer driver Turki Toman, 54, preferred the term "cathartic." Plowing his Caterpillar through the earthen mounds the IDF had built to block Gaza's main north-south route since the start of the intifada, he yelled down from his cab, "I feel great; this is the best work I've had in a while."
The employee of the PA Public Works Ministry then volunteered that "I felt even better earlier this morning when I set my bulldozer on the synagogue."
PA cabinet secretary Samir Ihleile said on Sunday that while Israel reneged on demolishing the synagogues, the PA would raze them "immediately", otherwise "Hamas would turn them into mosques."
Taking possession of the settlements did little to quell the terrorists' ambitions. Touring Neveh Dekalim's famed Star of David-shaped synagogue, Muhammad al-Hindi, Islamic Jihad's Gaza leader, said, "The struggle will continue in [Israel proper] and the West Bank until Palestine is liberated." He said his men still have our ways of fighting Israel from Gaza" and had no intention of disarming.
Islamic Jihad men greeted PA police, crunching over debris to bestow traditional kisses and blessing each other on their windfall. In Netzarim, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar prayed in the domed synagogue as dozens of green Hamas flags waved overhead.
Inside the Kfar Darom synagogue, crushed matza mingled with shattered glass and chunks of metal wrenched from their moorings.
A lone green swastika was spray painted on the Neveh Dekalim synagogue. Motor oil and chocolate spread left over from the anti-disengagement activists protests slicked the floors of the synagogues.
A Khan Yunis man steered his donkey cart through a haze of smoke into the Neveh Dekalim synagogue's main chamber to load up the aluminum he had stripped from the window frames. Before Monday a kilogram of scrap aluminum sold for about NIS 5 in the local markets. Some looters dejectedly noted that the sudden glut in scrap metal will drive prices down.
Outside the synagogue, police Sgt. Ahmed Abu Mustapha threw up his hands as looters, some of them in uniform, brushed by him. "They got here much faster than we did," he said. "It doesn't matter, it all will be destroyed and there is not much left anyway."
Indeed, the pickings were slim. Some rifled through the ruins, it seemed, solely for the thrill of being there and taking ownership of what had been denied them. Even The Jerusalem Post's generally maniacal driver coasted extra-slowly through the streets, his head turning this way and that at the crushed marvels.
Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST
Egyptian and Palestinian security officials met on Tuesday in an attempt to ease tensions between the two sides after thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip crossed into Egypt over the past 48 hours.
On Monday, Egyptian border policemen deployed along the Philadelphi route shot and killed a Palestinian man as he tried to infiltrate into Egypt. Another three Palestinians were injured in the incident.
Sources in the Gaza Strip said thousands of Palestinians have illegally crossed into Egypt over the past 48 hours, prompting Egyptian security officials to file a complaint with the PA.
Most of the Palestinians went to Egypt to do their shopping and many returned home with bags full of cigarettes, food and fish. Others said they crossed the border to see relatives living in the Egyptian part of Rafah.
Headed by PA National Security Advisor Jibril Rajoub, the Palestinian security team assured the Egyptians that the PA would do its utmost to prevent infiltrations into Egypt. The two sides agreed to seal off the border as of Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, thousands of Palestinians tore down a border fence and crossed into the Egyptian towns of Rafah and al-Arish. The Egyptian authorities announced that the infiltrators would be allowed to stay only for 96 hours.
Gazans loot greenhouses as police try to impose order
13 September 2005
NEVE DEKALIM, Gaza Strip - Palestinian police on Tuesday blocked off abandoned Jewish settlements and chased after scavengers in a first attempt to impose order after chaotic celebrations of Israel’s pullout from Gaza, but failed to halt looting of the area’s prized greenhouses.
Egyptian troops, meanwhile, failed for a second straight day to control a rush across the Gaza-Egypt border, which had been heavily guarded by Israel. With the Israelis gone, Gazans dug under walls and climbed over barriers to get to Egypt, where they stocked up on cheap cigarettes, medication and food.
The chaos raised new questions about the ability of Palestinian forces to impose order in Gaza, and drew fresh criticism of Egypt. Israel agreed to turn over border security to Egypt as part of its withdrawal.
“One would like to hope that what happened there was just a one-time failure by the Egyptian troops to do what is expected of them,” said Zalman Shoval, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Israeli officials said they were in contact with Egypt to resolve the matter.
The greenhouses, left behind by Israel as part of a deal brokered by international mediators, are a centerpiece of Palestinian plans for rebuilding Gaza after 38 years of Israeli occupation. The Palestinian Authority hopes the high-tech greenhouses will provide jobs and export income for Gaza’s shattered economy.
During a tour of Neve Dekalim, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei implored Palestinians to leave the structures intact, even as people scavenged through debris elsewhere in the settlement.
“These greenhouses are for the Palestinian people,” he said. “We don’t want anyone to touch or harm anything that can be useful for our people.”
Just minutes away, crowds of looters in the Gadid settlement overwhelmed hundreds of guards trying to protect the greenhouses. Guards acknowledged that in many cases, they were unable to stop the looting.
“They are taking plastic sheeting, they are taking hoses, they are taking anything they can get their hands on,” said Hamza Judeh, a Palestinian policeman.
Many were undeterred by the police presence. Police said one man dropped his loot only after he was beaten by security forces.
Tawfiq Abu Khoussa, spokesman for the Palestinian Interior Ministry, said protecting the greenhouses is a priority, but that he has only 7,500 officers to secure the entire area of abandoned settlements, including the greenhouses. “Our capabilities are limited,” he said.
He said Tuesday’s looting did not cause structural damage to the greenhouses.
Palestinian economist Salah Abdel Shafi, a World Bank consultant, said Israel left behind 3,000 to 4,000 greenhouses. While criticizing the looting, he said the structures have little use as long as the Palestinians are unable to export their produce. The Palestinians already have 12,000 other greenhouses that are largely unable to export because of Israeli restrictions, he added.
In an attempt to restore order, police early on Tuesday banned cars from entering Neve Dekalim, once the largest Gaza settlement, and cordoned off the empty synagogue there, which had been set on fire a day earlier. Club-wielding police chased kids and urged people to stop scavenging through debris left behind by the Israelis.
“This is not right, and we are going to stop them from doing it,” policeman Shafik Omran said as he looked at a man digging through a pile of garbage.
Despite the police efforts, Neve Dekalim was turned into a buzzing bazaar, with people haggling over bricks, scrap metal and other building materials they had collected. Similar scenes played out in other settlements.
So they destroyed the one thing they base their success on.....we'll probably be asked by the U.N. to give them money & support.