Thousands of Palestinians raided evacuated Gaza Strip settlements in the wake of the IDF’s withdrawal, resorting to an orgy of looting and vandalism.
Palestinian security forces at first attempted to resist the masses, but in most cases were overwhelmed by the mobs and gave up. What was supposed to be an orderly process of assuming control over the area turned into a huge scene of chaos mostly controlled by armed terrorists.
In Kfar Darom for example, one can find dozens of gunmen belonging to the Popular Front, with dozens of PA security forces lying down under trees and watching the gunmen in silence.
Palestinians celebrate in Gaza (Photo: AFP)
Still, PA troops in Kfar Darom showed determination in an attempt to prevent vandalism around the evacuated community’s synagogue. Special masked forces belonging to an elite unit encircled the synagogue and prevented Palestinians from accessing it. Two Palestinians who attempted to defy the police were beaten up.
The synagogue itself has turned into an improvised base for security forces. One of the officers on the scene, Ahmed Hilas, promised journalists the Palestinian Authority will put an end to the chaos in “three to four days.”
Yet for the time being, armed men control events on the ground. At the exit of Netzarim one can see jeeps of the Islamic Jihad transporting masked gunmen carrying rockets and mortars openly.
‘We need to be ready for next battle’
One of the gunmen said: “This mortar is what brought the victory and we’ll remind anyone who attempts to make the Palestinian people forget that.”
The terrorist said his group has no intention of disarming in the wake of the IDF’s withdrawal.
“We don’t know whether the Zionist enemy will seek to return and we still don’t know what the corrupt parties in the Palestinian Authority are scheming,” he said. “Therefore, we need to be ready for the next battle.”
Judging by his voice and the eyes peering out of his headgear, he appears barely 20-years-old.
In Netzarim, security forces deployed in the area lost control. Thousands rushed into the community with vehicles and are looting whatever they can find, including wood, aluminum, furniture, and plenty of mangos. Elsewhere, Palestinians come in with carts, destroy the evacuated community’s fence, move in and load more objects.
Surrealistic scenes can be seen everywhere. A security officer attempts to prevent a Palestinian from entering hothouses. The Palestinian insists and gets a plant. At the exit to Netzarim, a Palestinian is dragging a hundred-meter long pipe on his own. Any child who approaches or dares step on the pipe is promptly reprimanded.
Hamas and Jihad flags on synagogue’s rooftop
Hamas and Jihad flags have been raised since early this morning on top of the Netzarim synagogue, already partly set on fire. Two red flags representing the left-wing fronts are also fluttering in the air. Thousands on the ground are singing songs for Palestine, while others stand on the roof, hanging flags and shouting the name of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.
Two items are in high demand in Gaza today: Aluminum and mango. Hundreds of Palestinians are walking around carrying bags of mango. Plenty of mango. The fruits, taken from the orchards in Netzarim, are not yet ripe, but anyone who can put his hands on some mango does so. Halil, 63, of Gaza explained: “We do it in order to say that this again belongs to us, the land is ours and the fruits are also ours.”
Palestinian officers fail to stop mob
It appears that what is now taking place in the Gaza Strip is quite different from anticipated scenarios. According to plans (at least in theory,) Palestinian civilians should have been able to enter the settlements only three days after the completion of the pullout, and only after demolitions and ecology experts had made sure that the area is safe.
This theory fully collapsed Sunday night, when instead of demolition experts the settlements were invaded by mango and aluminum experts. At abandoned settlement Elei Sinai a Palestinian officer was trying to prevent people from entering, but gave up after only a few seconds and was forced to allow thousands to get inside. People rummaged through the ruins, and took whatever they could lay their hand on: a piece of window, an armchair, an old lawn mower.
The Palestinian security forces gave up. There was no way they could deal with the thousands who marched miles’ walking in long lines, and broke through the roadblocks. In groups they took over the ruins and started pulling the aluminum out.
Palestinians on the roof of Neve Dekalim synagogue (Photo: Reuters)
Near the Netzarin Junction, known amongst the Palestinians as “Martyrdom Junction” in honor of the many Palestinians who were killed there, Palestinians are walking around careless for the first time in years. The smoke rising from the settlement’s burning synagogue is everywhere, but the Palestinians officers have already given up.They realize that there is not much they can do today.
Local entrepreneurs were quick to make a profit from this day. Abdul Kader is selling hotdogs and dates to passers by and boasting he is going to make a fortune. For the first time since the Intifada started, he says, he feels what it is like to be making a living.