Sunday, September 25, 2005

The right to die

Well, the good news is, I write this from an internet cafe in Cairo, with Yousuf sleeping soundly in his stroller by my side. We made it out of Gaza- just barely, within the span of 24 hours that the Rafah Crossing was re-opened on Friday to allow out hundreds of thousands (and i'm not exhaggerating here) trapped students, expatriate Palestinians, sick men, women, and children who need treatement in Egypt and beyond, and so on, in a trip that took just as long. Those were the only categories of Palestinians allowed out of Gaza, with a select 50 more a day allowed out (that doesn't include me-I am a "security threat') through Erez.

We literally did not know whether the crossing would open or not until pre-dawn on Friday, with israeli forces reportedly (according to a senior Palestinain security official) threatening to bomb passenger buses if the PA and Egypt operated the crossing without its approval, all pressure tactics tells me Diana Butto, legal advisor to the Palestinian withdrawal committee, to force Palestinians to accept an Israeli-imposed solution (a circutious route through a crossing called Kerem Shalom) to Palestinian movement that would render our freedom of movement-and sovereingy-null and void.

Local newscasts kept flip-flopping as to whether or not the crossing woudl open, first it was yes but.., then it was no, indefinitely, then it was yes, then no again, and finally "yes, for 48 hours".

That was of course cut short to just around 30 hours, after all hell broke loose in Gaza-which I watch from a distance with great pain, and Israeli decided to collectively punish all of Gaza's Palestinians (a violation of Geneva 4, also a hallmark of an occupying power) by shutting down all crossings indefinitely again right as we left (wait, I thought the occupation was over? Israel was no long in control of the borders? er...)

The Crossing-which is the only route to the outside world for Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians, was unilaterally shut down by Israel in the beginning of september-which contrary to popular belief and mass media projection-still maintains effective control over the borders and crossings.

we left Gaza at 6am and arrived in Cairo at the same time the next day. it was, to put it mildly, a journey through hell. Much of problem was due to delays because of the backlog of people trying to get through before the crossing would close again, and logistical delays-the Israelis yanked out all the computers and baggage conveyors to make sure that the Palestinians do not operate the crossing unilaterally (that word should be familiar to them...). Still, they were quite speedy adn efficient, and everyone seemed please with their effeciency given their minimal capabilities. the same cannot be said for the egyptians-for which i will reserve a separate blog rant.

Meanwhile, thousands of other Palestinains who were not as lucky as we were remain behind in Gaza, and Egypt. I have spoken to Palestinian families in Gaza whose loved ones died wiating to get medical treatment, and others here in Cairo that who were unable to transport the bodies of their recently deceased relatives to be buried with dignity in their homeland, in Gaza. One right the Israelis have granted us: the right to die.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Closed in, again Closed in, again Closed, again

Am I beginning to sound l ike a broken record? If so, that should be a telling statement regarding the situation in Gaza after disengagement. Its the same old same old. And predictions about Gaza becomign a prison have very much materialized.

I had to cancel my ticket reservations from Cairo to the US, where Yousuf and I were supposed to meet up with Yassine, whom we haven't seen for 5 months (and who isn't allowed into Gaza by Israel, since he is a refugee). Israel refuses to give in on Rafah Crossing, and it remains closed for the near future in the meantime.

There is literally no way out of here for Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians, save for an agreement to issue a high-priority (and difficult to obtain) 50 permits a day through the Erez Crossing. Its is noteworthy to mention that nearly 90% of GAza's Palestinians are refused permits through Erez, based on blanket "security reasons" (including myself...). I'm trying to come up with a list of all sorts of threatening things I could do that might account for this security denial-"stop, or I'll throw his dirty diaper in your face! I'm serious..not one step closer"

I'm beginning to feel like I'm part of an old 1970s Disney movie where a family attempts (succesfully) to escape walled in East Berlin in a hot air baloon. Hmmm. I can picture that now, Yousuf and I floating across Philadelphi, dodging (probably not for long...) Israeli drones and radars. Hey, we've careened across the Gaza coast in a donkey cart during closures of the (area formerly known as) Netzarim Junction, I think we can handle that.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Once they were mosques...

A compelling-and timely-article in Haaretz about hundreds of mosques that were destroyed and dozens of others that were converted to synagogues, cafes, and even a cowshed. Long-live Zionism.

Hilmi, a member of a non-profit group affiliated with the northern faction of the Islamic Movement which keeps track of abandoned mosques faxed over seven handwritten pages, which included two lists. One list, with 34 names, enumerates mosques that now serve a different purpose: most were turned into synagogues or museums, a few became residences or storerooms, at least two are cafes, and one became a cowshed. The second list, 39 names, catalogs abandoned mosques to which access has been cut off. "A partial list," Hilmi wrote. He also noted that it did not take into account the mosques and Muslim houses of prayer destroyed since 1948. How many were destroyed? ...hundreds, considering the fact that about 600 villages were expelled or chased off or abandoned...

More at

Two young residents of the Palestinian refugee camp of Rafah take a peek over a wall that has separated them from their sister city for 28 years. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Across the killing field

Yesterday, I joined thousands of Palestinians who streamed across the once impermeable and deadly wall that divided this battered border town into two, to visit family and friends they had not seen in decades, to shop, or simply to see Egypt for the first time.

It was yet another journey into the surreal. There I was, after all, standing in the Dead Zone known as Philadelphi corridor by Israelis, the killing field by Palestinians, the very location where Israeli tanks once nested awaiting orders to pound this refugee camp, their tracks still freshly imprinted in the sand, the Palestinian homes they destroyed spread out like carcasses in the background. The once deadly frontline of the Israeli army had become a porous free-for-all.

Rafah was divided into two parts by a fence - and later an iron wall - under the 1982 peace treaty between and Egypt and Israel, which returned the occupied Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.

Thousands of Palestinian families were separated as a result.

The Israeli withdrawal has given them the brief opportunity to reunite, many for the first time in decades, as they clambered over and through the barriers, overcome with emotion.

As a Gush-Shalom ad in Haaretz said:

"In 1989, the masses breached the wall in Berlin. Relatives who had not seen each other for decades embraced in a storm of emotions. The whole world applauded. So did we. In 2005 the masses breached the wall in Rafah. Relatives who had not seen each other in decades embraced in a storm of emotions. The Israeli government immediately started to shout: A scandal! A violation of agreements!

But when you cut a town into two, no wall will endure. Not in Berlin. Not in Rafah. Not anywhere."

“How are you?! How is the family? I missed you all so much,” cried one man, Ibrahim Turbani, to a cousin he had not seen in 28 years from the Palestinian side, as they hugged in the middle of the sandy no-man’s land where Israeli tanks once nested.

The scenes were repeated all along the border area, with tearful and emotional reunions between mothers and daughters, brothers and cousins.

Some Palestinians simply went as first-time tourists, curious to find out what was outside of their war-torn Gaza Strip.

“I came to see this other world I heard about, I’ve never left Gaza in my life, in fact I’ve barely left my refugee camp, and this was my opportunity to do so,” said 20-year-old Sameera Gashlan, a nursing student in a Gaza university and resident of the Nseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

Nearby, two small boys from the formerly besieged Rafah neighbourhood of Tal al-Sultan whispered and pointed out people from behind a blown-off portion of the wall, as they tried to identify who was Egyptian and who was Palestinian.

"See, I told you silly, that's a Palestinian, not an Egyptian," said one to the other.

"Its something new for them, they've never seen people others than Gazans in their life," one young man explained.

Many Gazans were re-united with their families that they were otherwise unable to visit in years past due to Israeli restrictions on travel that have prevented some 90% of Palestinians from leaving Gaza.

“I’m going to see meet my mother, who is very ill, in al-areesh and try and bring her back to Gaza,” explained Saleh Areef, who has been unable to leave Gaza since 1999.

“I left Kuwait to come live in Gaza, but the Israelis froze the family re-union and residency permits after I arrived and I’ve been a prisoner in my own land ever since.”

Palestinians were critical of the calls to seal off the border again, saying Rafah was once one town and shoudl remain that way, and citing as the real problem the lack of a systemic means of access out of and into the Gaza Strip.

“If they just opened Rafah as an international border with normalized access for Palestinians then there would be no reason for all of this madness,” one Palestinian woman told me.

“The reason people are flooding the border is that they aren’t allowed through in a normalized way, there is no system to allow that kind of access. They have families and they are going to want to cross. The bigger problem is that there is normalized procedure to cross the border.”

The Rafah border terminal, which Israeli forces have vacated but still control, was shut down indefinitely last week, leaving 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza stranded.

The unofficial-and illegal- border passages have been their only means to leave or enter Gaza in the meantime.

Amidst the surreal scenes that to the untrained eye seemed like a mass exodus of refugees, Palestinians herded goats and sheep they had bought for a fraction of the price in the Egyptian town of al-Arish, after first hauling them over a part of the border fence.

Egyptian visitors to Palestinian Rafah-and Gaza city, of which there were thousands- carried back bags of apples-a staple of northern Gaza, but difficult to find and expensive in Egypt, along with wool blankets and trays of sweets, as moneychangers took advantage of the unexpected market, exchanging shekels for pounds at high rates to anxious visitors, and vice versa.

"Who would have ever believed it-there were actually Egyptians in my store this morning-in Gaza city!" a Palestinian boutique owner, downstairs from my house, exclaimed.

“I wish the border would never close-business has never been so good, and people can finally visit their families,” said Egyptian shopkeeper Mohamamd Gumbaz, who owns a herb and spice store just after the border that, like many nearby shops, had sold out of most items.

Despite the intoxicating festivity, several Israeli drones whirred menacingly overhead the Palestinian side of Rafah, creating a cacophonous, if not distrubing, symphony with nearby celebratory wedding drums and the baahing of newly purchased Egyptian sheep.

They monitored the movement along the border from afar, serving as an eerie and foreboding reminder that Israeli troops were never far away for residents of this battered town.

“They’re never going to leave us alone,"said one young Rafah resident, whose home had been demolished, and brother killed, during one of the deadly Israeli offensives into the area.

"They will continue to make our lives miserable, if not with tanks, then with unmanned drones.”

For more, check out the pictures I took at

Me, standing in the once impervious Philadelphi Corridor

Standing in the Dead Zone (the Philadelphi Corridor) earlier today between Egyptian and Palestinain Rafah. More at Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My settlement tour: Katrina meets Alice's Wonderland

Its almost 2 am, and I've very tired. I've spent the entire day touring the settlements-a tour of the surreal. I just don't know how else to describe it, but I"ll try. Here's a rough draft and more extended version of an article I wrote for Aljazeera:

Using roads that had been previously blocked off to them, Palestinian from all walks of life-the young and the old, men, women, children, and families, resistance fighters and security forces, slowly filtered into the former colonies after day break to take a glimpse of what was inside.

In the infamous colony of Nezarim, which had strategically split Gaza into two sections and was for so long a pillar and much-hated symbol of the occupation, nothing was left untouched by departing Israeli forces. Trees were uprooted, electricity lines were cut, and vegetation inside greenhouses and around the land had not been watered in over 15 days, leaving a dry and dead landscape.

Palestinians salvaged what they could from the rubble, including copper wires and scrap metal which sells for 8 shekels ($ 2) a kilo in this impoverished territory.

Some children picked large mangoes off a razed tree, while others took to scavenging for leftover toys and books; some found Jewish skullcaps and wore them while posing, oblivious to the irony, next to Hamas flags. Others tied orange anti-disengagemetn ribbons to their heads. All were elated and awe-struck, expressing relief and excitement at seeing the occupation depart. Everybody wanted a souvenir.

“We can finally move freely throughout Gaza and play without anyone shooting at us,” said one, 14-year-old Abdullah Yunis, as he surveyed the remains of ploughed over sniper tower that overlooked his refugee camp.

Amidst the curious crowds, a Palestinian photojournalist walked around in a vest stapled with pictures he took of Palestinians martyrs killed by Israelis forces in years past, including the youngest victim-4-month-old Iman Hijju of Khan Yunis.

“I want them to witness this historic moment with me. I want to also make sure that people never forget what they died for,” he said.

Palestinians wandered around in disbelief, trying to absorb the scene and the moment. For some, like 26-year old Omar Budran, who lost a leg to an Israeli helicopter gunship that fired at a group of Palestinians not far from the settlement in the crowded Nusseirat refugee camp two years ago, the day was particularly poignant.

“It’s an incredible day for me. I am overwhelmed with happiness, and I am optimistic what the future might bring,” he said.

Palestinian forces could do little to stop the largely curious crowds from touring the settlements, though officials say they will take control of the areas in coming days.

“No one in the world can prevent people from expressing heir joy at seeing an occupation depart,” said one Palestinian security officials futilely guarding the gates to the infamous former colony, adding that security forces were making sure the flimsy tarp and wire remains of the greenhouses were kept in tact.

Many Palestinian boys, backpacks still on shoulder, skipped school in favor of the exploratory visits to the abandoned colonies that for so long were a source of their grief and misery.

In the former colony of Kfar Darom, young refugee children from the camp of Dair al-Balah played in an abandoned playground.

“It’s the most fun we’ve ever had, there’s nothing like this in our refugee camp,” laughed 12-year-old Reem Idayn, as she slid down a slide.

Nearby, Palestinian security officers who had been up since 3am for the handover of the settlement lands dozed off under the shade of a large mulberry tree, while young children clamored for a photo opportunity in an abandoned but not yet demolished sniper tower that overlooked a pockmarked UN school.

Across the now-flattened electric fence of the former colony, 53-year-old Sulayman Tawaysha continued to watch the scenes in disbelief along with his six children. The entire family had been up since 3am to see the soldiers leave, at which point they erupted in ululations of joy and put on fireworks display.

“I feel free, for the first time, we all feel free,” said Tawaysha, as his youngest daughter, Buthoor, served coffee and date cookies to celebrate. Her mother, a newly hired headmistress, was at a local school trying in vain to convince schoolchildren to attend classes.

“Tonight will be the first time we can sit outside after sunset without the fear of being shot at by the nearby troops,” added Tawaysha.

The Tawaysha’s house was occupied over twenty times by Israeli forces throughout the Intifada, 17 donoms of their land and 3 buildings they own worth $600, 000 were razed to the ground.

Further south, Palestinians drove past the Abo Holi checkpoint for the first time in 6 years without having to stop and wait for orders to pass, though a traffic jam ensued as Palestinian forces took down a watchtower that Israeli forces had abandoned but not dismantled.

“I can’t believe it-I spent so many miserable nights sleeping here at the checkpoint, waiting for it to open, suffering at their whim,” said taxi driver Samir Dogmosh as he drove through unhindered.

In Neve Dekalim in southern Gaza, the large synagogue in the shape of a star of David, built in “memory” of the former settlement of Yamit in Sinai, was still standing. Flags of Palestinain factions were hoisted on top. Inside charred anti-disengagement literature and flyers advertising “tours” to Gush Qatif as “New Zionism plus Torah True Living in Action” littered the vacated, and mostly undemolished, former settlement stronghold, juxtaposed against the impoverished Khan Yunis refugee camp. “Let us help you to sense the magic being felt daily in this beautiful part of our homeland,” read the flyer.

Everything was in tact, including the settlemetn "town centre", the school, adn the marketplace. Israeli ani-disengagemetn graffiti was hastily spraypainted over and posters of Marwan Barghouthi were put up instead.

Beyond the former colony, Palestinians swarmed the Khan Yunis beach in the fertile and formerly fenced off enclave of Mawasi, which had been off-limits to them for since the start of the Intifada.

“Today I am here to enjoy this historic day with my only son, Abdullah,” said Khan Yunis resident Um Abdullah as she sat under a tin-sheet shelter erected by the seaside, her son playing in the sand nearby. "I came to swim," explained her 4-year-old son, expertly.

Young boys surfed on broken refrigerator doors; children ran boisterously around abandoned sea shacks and flew kites; and families took the day off to picnic.

I had an urge to jump in the sea, to scream and laugh and run unrestrained all at once just like those children. IT was, for a people long deprived of it, the sweet and intoxicating taste of freedom.

But in the end, somehow, I couldn't help but feel like a small hamster, who was released from the confines of a small, decrepit cage with a vexing obstacle course to maneuver around, to a more spacious, less restrictive one, basking in the elation of its new-found freedom, forgetting, for just a moment, that it was still walled in from all sides.

Check out some of my picturse at

Monday, September 12, 2005

A leftover flyer in Neve Dekalim that I found advertising "tours" to Gush Katif, touting it as "New Zionism plus torah True Living in Action". "Come and see Gush Kaif-and enjoy its golden sands studded with date palms, virgin beaches, and the local synagogue almost unrivaled for beauty in the country, built in meory of the city of Yamit. Come let us help you to sense the magic being felt dialy in this beauiful, vibrant and new awakening part of our homeland"... Posted by Picasa

Palestinians reclaim a former sniper tower in Kfar Darom Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 11, 2005

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....

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The remote-controlled occupation

WELL, just when I though it was all over, here I am, stuck once again in the cozy disengaged confines of Gaza city. I wish I could say in the confines of "Gaza Strip" but then I'd be lying--Israel has split Gaza into two parts, closing off the Abo Holi checkpoint in Central Gaza to all Palestinian movement, and today announced the indefinite closure of Rafah crossing, the only route to the outside world for me and and Yousuf and 1.4 million others.

The closure, following the trend of Disengagement, was a unilateral Israeli move.

Of course this is all the more significant given the fact that we are due to travel in about a week to the United States to visit my husband, Yousuf's baba, via Rafah Crossing and Cairo. Its even more painful for Palestinian requiring medical visits in Egypt, or coming back from abroad to begin schools, or even worse-who need to bury their dead.

One of best family friends was killed today in a car crash in Egypt, along with her husband and adopted daughter (only the second, 12-year-old girl survived). THey were there seeking cancer treatement for the father unavailable in Gaza. Now the family that survives them in Gaza cannot go to Egypt and bring the bodies back to be buried here, nor bring the surviving child with them. This is the harsh daily reality for Palestinians. This is the reality that I fear will not change if we are not allowed control over Rafah crossing.

The fanfare in recent days about the "deal" reached over Rafah is vastly overstated. The agreement signed between Egypt and Israel basically gives Egyptian troops the right to...get this...redeploy on their own border. What a breakthrough.

Better yet, the "Egyptian compromise" over border control that the Israeli government is "leaning towards accepting" will have Israel controlling a new terminal for the passage of goods, and Israeli surveillance cameras monitoring Palestinian movement through the current Rafah crossing, which will be operated jointly by Egyptians and Europeans (with Israeli oversight, of course). Right. It all makes sense now. A remote-controlled occupation.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Two beautiful suns setting in Gaza Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Rafah : more of the same

Israeli and Egyptian officers signed an agreement Thursday to deploy 750 lightly-armed Egyptian troops along the border with the Gaza Strip who are meant to prevent weapons-smuggling into Gaza.

Following the announcement, one could hardly flip through a paper or browse an online news site without finding something that didn't tout the agreement as the end of the miserable border regime that is Rafah Crossing; a bunch of other articles I came across even spoke of the the reunion of Egyptian and Palestinian Rafah-split apart after the 1967 war.

I was speaking to a friend of mine yesterday-a freelancer based in Ramallah who is here visiting Gaza, and I remarked in frustration "it seems like these people are living in some sort of parallel universe. " "That's because they are," he said.

We say that because in the end, nothing will change. Ultimate control over the border-the only route to the outside world for Gaza’s 1.4 millions Palestinians (that oft-repeated statistic includes Yousuf and me) will remain in Israeli hands.

In fact, the Egyptian-Israeli deal was signed despite the fact that no agreement has yet been reached with the Palestinian Authority on who will ultimately control the borders after Israel's pullout from Gaza.

Also of interest-Israel is relocating the crossing farther southeast to a point where the Egyptian-Gaza-Israeli borders meet, an area called "Kerem Shalom", despite opposition from Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.

Now why would they do that-relocate a perfectly miserable crossing? Is it because they are humane-maybe they want to service us better-after all those long waits in the non-airconditioned run-down buses, complete with fainting women and children, are really getting to be a drag.

What we'll often hear in the news is-they want to be able to check Palestinian goods. But how is that different that what happens now?

Actually, the new location would allow Israeli troops to control Palestinian movement in and out of Gaza WITHOUT physically being present in the Strip. What does that matter one may ask? Well, it is an attempt to bolster the Israeli argument that they are no longer occupying the area.

Right. Does anyone else see a problem with this scenario?

Palestinians of course reject the proposal, arguing that without free access for people and goods and sovereignty over their air, sea, and borders, the economy, and the future of their state, will be in peril. So far, those rejections have fallen on deaf ears, and foreign minister Nasir al-Qidwa has acquiesced (frankly, its not like he had any say in the matter-the Israelis have already started work on the new terminal) to the Israeli proposal.

Friday, September 02, 2005

On looting

According to Haaretz, and in confirmation of my last post, there has been massive looting of the Gaza settlements by public agencies, nonprofit organizations, individuals and even other local councils (not "Arab truck drivers"..why do people insist on reducing us as Palestinians in our entirety to a bunch of violent, lawless, barbaric thugs?), ever since the settlements were evacuated. The Gaza settlement council's liquidator filed a complaint with the police about the matter on Thursday.

Some of the big items, such as trash cans and lampposts, are thought to have been stolen by other local councils inside Israel, on the theory that the evacuated settlers no longer need this equipment, and it should not be left for the Palestinians. However, the liquidator is supposed to be selling such items to settle the disbanded regional council's debts. Government ministries are also suspected of having looted certain items, including kindergarten equipment.

More here.

Yousuf, hard at work on the beach. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Look Whose Looting Now

According to Israelreporter, it seems some of the settlers who have returned to Gaza to do some belated packing are actually looting under the guise of gathering up their propety. Apparently no one checks the settlers on their way out, and all they need to do to re-enter Gaza is send a fax to the Disengagement Authority in Israel.

Once one checks that the mover is moving only the specific property for which he was sent. A senior worker in the former Gaza Beach Regional Council revealed that citizens have been able to loot from private homes and from communal institutions without any problems, even though the army is theoretically guarding those possessions.

This is in addition to the looting by soldiers themselves. Which reminds me of the countless tales I've heard from Palestinians in Rafah of soldiers stealing their possessions during house raids (including those prized African parrots in the ill-fated Rafah zoo).

Well I guess that's good news for us-at least they are really leaving- but bad news for the Yesha Council. Anyone for a PR job?