Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A day after the IDF completes withdrawal fr. Gaza, Sharon, DM Mofaz separately vow that Israel will “make every effort to direct resources to the development” of West Bank settlement blocs. Meanwhile, Palestinians continue looting fmr. Gaza settlement sites for a 2d day, overwhelming PA security forces to strip some greenhouses. Egypt, daunted by the number of Palestinians seeking to cross the Rafah checkpoint, declares the border open for several days as a good-will gesture, allowing 1,000s on either side of the border to cross; many Palestinians rush to buy Egyptian goods (including food, medicine, sheep for the upcoming Ramadan holidays) that are dramatically cheaper than those in Gaza, and visit family and friends they have not seen in yrs. before the border is resealed. Israel criticizes the lax Egyptian, PA security; Egypt, the PA blame Israel for failing adequately to coordinate disengagement. Egyptian border guards patrolling the border find a smugglers tunnel containing 38 fire arms, 3 rocket propelled grenades (RPGs); the PA security forces seize the weapons. Palestinian militant groups hold larger rallies than on 9/12 (including 10,000s of Palestinians at a Hamas rally in Gaza City), celebrating the disengagement as a victory of the resistance; at Islamic Jihad rallies, mbrs. display their arms, but at Hamas rallies, mbrs. do not; Abbas warns that he will no longer tolerate the “chaos of weapons.” In the West Bank, the IDF occupies the top floor of a 4-story residential building nr. Hebron as an observation post, fires on stone-throwing youths who challenge the troops, killing 1 Palestinian, wounding 4; demolishes a Palestinian home in ‘Issawiyya, East Jerusalem, nr. French Hill settlement. (HA, NYT, YA 9/13; AFP, IMEMC, Independent, NYT 9/14; PCHR 9/15)