Monday, September 12, 2005

Palestinians rush into new Gaza

Synagogues in several of the largest settlements in Gaza, which Israel did not demolish, were burned or bulldozed, a move condemned by Israel's foreign minister as "a barbarous act by people who have no respect for holy places."

The cycle of blame and counter-blame is symbolic of what may be the direction of any return to negotiations. Talk is not of bridge-building, but of cutting losses and calculating gains, underscoring the gap in expectations about the land transfer and its role in setting the stage for future peace talks.

The overwhelming majority of Palestinians, according to a poll released Sunday, believe that armed resistance caused the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

According to the poll, carried out by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 62 percent said attacks from Gaza against Israel should end after the withdrawal, while 35 percent said attacks should continue.

"I think Israelis felt that by completing the withdrawal from Gaza, they had created an opportunity for peace for the Palestinians to seize upon," says Dore Gold, Sharon's adviser. "And what they saw was synagogues in flames, and that's something with a very ominous tone for the success of any future negotiations."

In Neve Dekalim, the twin synagogues that were the rallying point for fervent Jewish settlers resisting the evacuation a few weeks ago was crowded Monday with Palestinians scavenging whatever they could carry. A Hebrew poster signing the praises of the messiah was spraypainted with graffiti saying, "Yes to Islam."

Inside the former sanctuary, the floor was littered with shattered glass. Young men in the rafters with makeshift pick-axes sent debris and window panes crashing.

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