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Palestinian Militants Bomb American School in Gaza


Palestinian assailants have bombed an American-run school in the Gaza Strip, but there were no casualties. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, there has been a breakdown of law and order in the impoverished territory since Israel pulled out more than a year and a half ago.

Armed Palestinian militants stormed into the American International School in Gaza City, setting off explosives that damaged the building. The attack occurred at 5 a.m. when the school was empty. Police say the attackers overpowered security guards and then set off bombs in several areas of the school.

The American school is one of the best private schools in Gaza and has more than 600 students. But all foreign teachers left a year ago, after the Dutch principal and an Australian teacher were briefly kidnapped by Palestinian militants.

Palestinian officials condemned the bombing. Fawzi Barhoum is a spokesman for the Islamic militant group Hamas, the senior partner in a coalition government.

"This is a type of violence and terrorism against the Palestinian people and against our foundation[s]," he said.

The attack underscores the growing lawlessness in Gaza since Israel pulled out of the territory in August 2005. Palestinian analyst Wadia Abu Nasser says things took a turn for the worse after Hamas took power a year ago.

"We are witnessing a kind of unrest, a lack of security in Gaza, and I believe Hamas doesn't really bring any security, neither stability, to the population," he said.

Another sign of the deteriorating security situation is the kidnapping of BBC TV journalist Alan Johnston. To mark the 40th day of his captivity, the group Reporters Without Borders demanded that Palestinian leaders step up their efforts to win his release.

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