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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Christmas in July, 'Palestinian' style

On July 13-14, 1977, there was a blackout in New York City. As one might expect, there was much looting during the blackout - so much that the looters referred to it as "Christmas in July."

Last night, Christmas in July came to the Erez Crossing in the Gaza Strip. The riff raff of New York City have nothing on the 'Palestinians' of Gaza. New York City wasn't a war zone on that hot night 29 years ago next week, and while looters may have taken television sets and toaster ovens, they didn't take the stores apart on their way out:

Although most Israel forces assembled on Gaza's border remained there Tuesday, Israel moved some tanks, armored-personnel carriers and troops into an industrial zone in northern Gaza hours after Shalit's captors ended their participation in diplomatic efforts to free him.

The push into the Erez industrial park, comprising roughly 15 tanks and other armored vehicles, was designed to root out explosives and tunnels along the strip's northern border. Shalit was captured June 25 when Palestinian gunmen emerged from a nearly half-mile tunnel under the border in southern Gaza and attacked his post.

Although there were no reports of casualties from sporadic Israeli small-arms fire, the incursion into Erez touched off feverish scavenging by hundreds of young Palestinian men, who carted off light fixtures, corrugated metal and even streetlights after Palestinian police left their posts. It was the third time since Shalit's capture that the Israeli military has sent a small armored force into Gaza, which Israel cleared of its settlements and bases last fall.

The industrial site's clothing and furniture factories once employed many Palestinians, whose handiwork was sold in Israel, but it has been mostly empty for months. The main passenger crossing between Israel and Gaza at Erez was closed for much of the day.

"I heard people saying that people are breaking into the industrial zone," said Ismail Haitham Mahdi, 24, who was carting off a door frame. "So I just came."


In the Erez industrial park, meanwhile, scores of young men picked through rubble and entered factories searching for aluminum siding, furniture, engine parts, clothes and other items that could be sold. They loaded up donkey carts and vans. A bulldozer uprooted a streetlight, carting it off along with its cement base.

Wouldn't you do the same? /sarc


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