Thousands of cheering Palestinians rushed into abandoned Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip early today-Monday, raising the Palestinian flag over land vacated by Israel after a 38-year occupation.
The celebrations erupted as the top Israeli military commander in the territory drove through the Kissufim crossing into Israel, completing an overnight troop withdrawal. All 85-hundred Jewish settlers were evacuated last month.
Israeli soldiers then closed the crossing gate and piled concrete slabs and dirt to block the road, which had been the main artery linking Israel and Gaza.
Palestinian militants began celebrating with gunfire as soon as the Israelis left. Some planted flags, while others began destroying abandoned synagogues. Still others brought their families to witness the spectacle.
Egyptian border guards trying to disperse huge crowds on the Gaza-Egypt frontier shot and killed a Palestinian man said to be part of a crowd of demonstrators trying to cross into Egypt.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.