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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:13, June 18, 2007
Feature: Gaza Palestinians fear further crisis, some fleeing home
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As Hamas was struggling to restore order and security in the Gaza Strip, Palestinians were worried that the coastal strip could see further crisis and some were trying to flee home towards Israel.

On Sunday, hundreds of Palestinians were stuck at the main Erez crossing between the Strip and Israel as the Israeli troops at the terminal fired in the air from time to time to keep the Palestinians away.

Around the crossing, Hamas gunmen were still searching for rival Fatah militants, who had been trying to flee Gaza after suffering a fiasco during deadly clashes since June 10.

About 200 meters away from the crossing, Hamas gunmen set up a temporary checkpoint. They stop every car, order passengers to get out and inspect their documents.

"If they found a Fatah member wanted for them, they take him, but they leave the people who are believed to be ordinary civilians," said a taxi driver at the crossing, who asked not to be named.

Hamas and its security forces called on Palestinians not to leave the Strip, saying that the region would be safe and secure after they "cleaned it from corruption."

In a move to convince local residents that it could restore law and order in the Strip, Hamas leaders promised to free the BBC journalist Alan Johnston, who had been under abduction in the Strip since March 12.

Earlier on Saturday, deposed prime minister Ismail Haneya of Hamas appointed a new security chief for the Gaza Strip to replace a pro-Fatah command in order to tighten control of the Strip.

Though so, ordinary Palestinians in the strip were still wondering how Hamas could restore law and order when thousands of civil policemen refused to report to work and stayed at home.

More than security, Gaza Palestinians had other concerns, including supplies of food and gasoline, as prices of basic foods were soaring.

Since the Strip was totally dependent on imports for food, fuel and other supplies, its 1.4 million residents were rushing to stock up on these staffs over fears that the Hamas-controlled Strip would be sealed off by Israel.

Israel closed off the tiny coastal enclave after Hamas, which was committed to Israel's destruction, seized control of it after days of bloody fighting.

Moreover, a number of Israel Defense Forces soldiers entered the northern Gaza Strip for a routine searching operation on Sunday afternoon.

"It seems we are going to the abyss," the taxi driver said.

Source: Xinhua

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