"Palestinian police on Tuesday blocked off abandoned settlements and chased after scavengers in a first attempt to impose law and order after chaotic celebrations of Israel's pullout from Gaza, but the overwhelmed forces were unable to halt looting of the area's prized greenhouses.
The greenhouses, left behind by Israel as part of a deal brokered by international mediators, are a centerpiece of Palestinian plans for rebuilding Gaza after 38 years of Israeli occupation. The Palestinian Authority hopes the high-tech greenhouses will provide jobs and export income for Gaza's shattered economy.
During a tour of Neveh Dekalim, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei implored Palestinians to leave the structures intact, even as people scavenged through debris elsewhere in the settlement.
"These greenhouses are for the Palestinian people," he said. "We don't want anyone to touch or harm anything that can be useful for our people."
Just minutes away, crowds of looters in the Gadid settlement overwhelmed hundreds of guards trying to protect the greenhouses. Guards acknowledged that in many cases, they were unable to stop the looting.
"They are taking plastic sheeting, they are taking hoses, they are taking anything they can get their hands on," said Hamza Judeh, a Palestinian policeman.
If casinos in Vegas and London would accept the bets, you could make a fortune wagering that Palestinian Arabs will always do something counterproductive for their future. It is a sure thing.