Hamas goes on Gaza looting spree

They were taking everything in the Gaza Strip on Friday - including the kitchen sink. A day after the Islamist Hamas routed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah, the pillaging began.

The fighting may have died down apart from the occasional burst of gunfire, but the homes of Fatah members loyal to Abbas and the fallen security strongholds across the territory were considered fair game.

While victorious Hamas militants posted outside Abbas's own villa prevented looters from approaching, the home of former Fatah strongman in Gaza Mohammed Dahlan was not spared.

The possessions of a man hated by Hamas became the spoils of war.

An AFP correspondent witnessed dozens of Palestinians taking everything they could carry from Dahlan's villa - furniture, pot plants and even the kitchen sink, complete with plumbing fixtures such as taps.

And inside the Muntada, Abbas's seafront presidential compound that was seized by masked militants on Thursday - the final bastion to fall, witnesses reported seeing Hamas fighters remove computers, documents and guns.

They also helped themselves to Fatah vehicles. Those they could not get started were towed away, draped in the green standard of Hamas.

The Islamists were firmly in control of Gaza on Friday, effectively creating an Islamic enclave on Israel's border and effectively splitting the Palestinians into two separate entities, jeopardising any prospect for a future state of their own and peace with Israel.

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, now Fatah's sole powerbase, five shops affiliated with Hamas sympathisers, including a falafel stand, were torched in Bethelehem, security sources and Hamas said.

Sporadic shooting rattled around Gaza, which has been completely sealed off from the outside world by Israel which closed all border crossings until further notice.

"This is the worst thing I've seen since 1967" when Israel routed Arab armies in the Six Day War, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat of Fatah told AFP.

"I see the separation of Gaza from the West Bank, and I see the Palestinian aspirations for a state set back. Gaza is officially outside the (Palestinian) Authority's control. It's a mutiny now." - AFP


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