In a law and order crackdown, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered the destruction of illegal buildings along the Gaza coastline. Police and security forces used bulldozers to rid the area of the numerous cafes, kiosks and bars that had sprung up. The operation is the first tangible sign of Abbas’s desire to enforce laws that have been ignored for years.
Hundreds of heavily armed Palestinian police were on hand to protect the workers but although there was anger there was no violence. Abbas has just wrapped up several days of talks with Palestinian militant groups aimed at persuading them to abandon their weapons.
He described the meetings as “very positive” and said differences had been significantly narrowed down. There was no formal agreement but violence in the area has dropped sharply in recent days. Israel had said it will not agree to a formal ceasefire with militant groups – some of which want its destruction – but would respond in kind to a cessation of violence.