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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Abbas Curbs Arafat's Leniency on Lawlessness

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- New President Mahmoud Abbas put teeth into his vow to crack down on lawlessness in Palestinian areas on Tuesday as bulldozers began demolishing buildings illegally built by militants and security men on public land.

Bulldozers swung into action in northern Gaza where 2,000 security forces deployed under Abbas's orders to prevent militant attacks on Israelis to help him revive peace talks. A de facto cease-fire has held in the region for a week.

Abbas, who on Monday ended a week of talks with Gaza militants in which he secured a sharp drop in violence although no formal truce, ordered the demolitions after touring the area and finding much rogue construction on public land.

Orders to remove such buildings had been ignored in the last years of Yasser Arafat's leadership in which militants, many linked to lawless elements of security services, took over the streets.

Hundreds of Palestinian policemen were deployed to protect the Palestinian Authority bulldozers as they started razing private buildings erected on public property in Gaza City.

To defuse possible public protests, the bulldozers initially zeroed in on buildings put up by security men, including a string of cafeterias and restaurants along the Mediterranean seaboard.

Municipal police official Musa Alian said hundreds of buildings erected without permits by militants, security men and ordinary civilians would be felled in coming days, adding that their owners had all received advance warnings.