Synagogues burn as Palestinians rejoice over Israeli withdrawal from Gaza Strip

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Monday, September 12, 2005

Mahmoud Abbas

On Monday, the Israeli army withdrew from the Gaza Strip. Palestinians rejoiced over this occasion, with Mahmoud Abbas saying that "This is a day of happiness and joy that the Palestinian people have not witnessed for a century."

The 38 years of Israeli presence in the Gaza strip have officially ended.

Palestinians were overjoyed at the sight of the burning synagogues, planting flags in the midst of it all, and shouting cries of independence. Teenagers set fire to a few synagogues, letting out anger at Israel's occupation.

The fires did little damage to the concrete structures, but Abbas said that the Palestinians planned to destroy them fully.

Palestinian police admitted that there was not much they could or would do to stop this.

Last year, the Israeli cabinet had planned to destroy the synagogues, but this Sunday, under pressure from religious Jewish organizations, it reversed its decision. Palestinians were angry at the cabinet's Sunday vote.

The synagogues, as well as all community structures, including community centers, schools, and sports facilites, are the only physical remnants of the Israeli Gaza Strip presence since all residential structures have been destroyed.