over and OUT...
ITs almost midnight. In a few hours-they will be gone. They of course, being the soldiers that have for so long made our lives miserable here. Already sporadic celebrations are taking place in Gaza-these celebrations feel much more real that the "manufactured" ones when disengagement first began several weeks ago. people are out on the streets, singing, dancing, lighting firecrackers. They are gathering near settlements-everyone wants a peek of what's inside (not much, I hear from PA and EU officials who visited some of the sites today).
According to officials who visited the settlements-everything has been destroyed, uprooted, ripped out, or looted. Sabri Saidam, Minister of Telecommunications, compared it to the Katrina disaster zone. An European official I spoke with said even the greenhouses-for which the settlers were PAID something like $40 million to keep, were dismantled-only the tarp and wire was kept in tact, everything IN the greenhouses was destroyed or taken back. He told me some settlers came back in and offered to "re-sell" the machinery that kept the greenhouses going.
Everything was taken out, even light sockets. Trees were uprooted, electricity lines were cut, and vegetation was not watered for 15 days leaving a "scorched earth." The official also told me how he saw so-called sewage treatement facilities: "basically it was one big septic tank-the sewage was dumped onto gaza dunes, and filtered into the Coastal Aqcuifer."
Of course, besides the total destruction of all infrastructure that could have used by Gaza's Palestinians, Israel has also left unanswered the questoin of control over borders. So yes, they HAVE left Gaza as one big prison. They left, and quite literally locked the door on their way out. All border crossings are now closed indefinitely. No one can leave and come in.
In a press conference held Sunday afternoon in Gaza City, Minister of Civil Affairs Mohammad Dahalan accused Israel of imposing a solution upon the Palestinain regarding the Rafah Crossing.
"Everyone knows Israel has a clear plan to force us to agree on the Israel proposal to close the Rafah Crossing and move it to Kerem Shalom. There has been no agreement on the issue of border control yet and we blame Israel fully for leaving Gaza imprisoned," he said.
"Our position is clear: we absolutely refuse that the current crossing be moved to anywhere else. If it is moved to Kerem Shalom, this will mean greater suffering for Palestinians. The crossing has to be fully Palestinian -Egyptian. We refuse any other proposal."
Dahalan reiterated that the decision to close the Rafah Crossing to Palestinain travellers was a unilateral Israeli one, in which Palestinians took no part. He also warned Israeli against evacuating Gaza and leaving it as a large prison.
"If the Israelis think they will leave and close this place up they are mistaken. If they think the palestinains will remain quiet in the face of collective imprisonment, they are mistaken."
More tommorow I hope after I finally will get a chance to tour the vacated settlements....