Gaza pullout: the first step is done

Flatbed trucks rumbled out of the Gaza Strip today carrying office furniture, computers and uniforms out of an army base, the Israeli military’s first concrete step toward a planned pullout this summer.

With Israel set to withdraw all troops and settlements from Gaza in just three months, Prime Minister &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Ariel Sharon warned that he expects Palestinians to loot abandoned sites immediately after the soldiers leave. The comment astonished Palestinian leaders, who say chaos is not inevitable.

The army trucks began emptying out the base of the Southern Brigade in &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Neve Dekalim, the largest Jewish settlement in Gaza. About 20 containers were removed Wednesday, and more are expected to be shipped out in the coming days, the army said.

Military officials said no weapons were included in the shipment, and the base won’t be dismantled until the end of the operation. “We are already preparing, so everything won’t be last minute during the planned withdrawal,” said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity under military rules.

However, the date of the withdrawal remained up in the air as the government considered delaying the start by three weeks, from July 25 to August 15. A decision is expected this week, publishes the Scotsman.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team