Monday, September 12, 2005

Palestinian shot by Egyptian troop

Thousands of Rafah residents cross Egypt-Gaza border; Egyptian troops open fire at masses, killing one Palestinian and wounding several others
Ali Waked, Gaza

A Palestinian man has been shot dead Monday afternoon and other injured on the Egyptian – Gaza border, after Egyptian border troops opened fire on Palestinian crowds who were attempting to infiltrate Egypt. An Egyptian source has denied the reports.

The Palestinian man has been named as 37 year-old Nafez Atiya. He was shot in the neck after trying to cross the fence and get into Egypt.

Israel had left Gaza over the previous night, and the IDF had removed its soldiers from the Philadelphi Strip. Egyptian soldiers took their place, following an agreement between Cairo and Jerusalem on the deployment of Egyptian border troops on the border.

According to witnesses, Egyptian security forces opened fire after thousands of Palestinians crossed the Egyptian – Gazan border, dancing and celebrating Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza. Egyptian soldiers first fired warning shots into the air, before firing in the direction of the crowds crossing into Egypt.

Earlier, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas toured the Rafah border area, and shook hands with local residents. He told Palestinians in the area that they had a “full right” to celebrate the historic day, but added that a Palestinian state still lay in the distant future.

Thousands of Palestinian burst into abandoned Israeli settlements in Gaza Monday morning, where they burned a synagogue and took away pieces of the rubble. The Palestinian Authority later bulldozed the synagogue.

Palestinian security forces stood on the side and did not act to restrain the crowds, and failed to prevent the chaotic scenes.

In Kfar Darom, dozens of gunmen from the Popular Front [Hamas] wondered around unchallenged by Palestinian Authority security forces, who sat underneath trees in silence.

Foreign Minister Silvan slammed the burning of Gaza synagogues, characterizing it as “a barbaric act by people who have no respect for holy places.”

“This statement by Abu Mazen, (Palestinian leader Abbas) as if the buildings lost their sanctity is misplaced. The Palestinians did not invest any effort in preserving the synagogues and have thus failed their first mission,” he said. “We’ve seen acts by terror groups manifested through severe vandalism.”

News Agencies contributed to this report

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