Arabs Ransack Homesh, IDF Stays Away

Arab looters overran the demolished Jewish community of Homesh in northern Samaria Saturday. Israel has retained authority for the area, but the government did not send troops to stop the rampage.<BR><br/>

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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 00:03

Several days earlier, soldiers and police entered Sa-Nur, another former Jewish community, to forcibly evict scores of Jews who had returned. Knesset Member Eliezer Sandberg (Shinui) demanded that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "deal with the Palestinians in Homesh with the same determination with which he dealt with the evacuated settlers."

Hundreds of Arabs brought in tractors and wagons and ripped down electric poles and stole metal, wooden and plastic materials and burned rubble. Several Arabs also looted in Sa-Nur, despite the presence of IDF soldiers who were stationed to prevent Jews from returning to the site.

Israel has allowed the Palestinian Authority (PA) to deploy its police force in the northern Samaria, but both the IDF and the PA have abandoned Homesh, giving local Arabs free and unsupervised access. The IDF said it does not prohibit Arabs from being in the area on condition they do not take control of land or buildings.

Arab officials in nearby cities blamed Israel for the rampage, claiming it was a result of Israel’s unilaterally expelling Jewish residents and withdrawing IDF forces.

Elsewhere in Samaria, Arabs north of Ramallah hurled stones at IDF soldiers who were checking reports of a hole in the security fence. Soldiers fired rubber bullets to disperse the mob.

South of Shechem, in central Samaria, the IDF uncovered three loaded pistols and other ammunition being carried by four Arab terrorists, all of them teenagers. They were planning to attack Jews traveling in the area, according to the IDF.

In Gaza, The PA said it has deployed 1,500 men to prevent people from crossing the border between the Egyptian and Gaza sides of the city of Rafiah, but Israel government Radio reported that it only has reduced by half the infiltration. Egyptian soldiers shot in the air to ward away Arabs from Gaza but it allowed family members to cross the border.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has warned Egypt and the PA to seal the border and expressed fears that terrorists and weapons are entering Gaza.

The London-based al-Quds Arabic newspaper reported that Egypt and the PA are discussing uniting the city.