Gunmen attack Internet cafes in Gaza

Fatah official: They are trying to turn Palestine into a Taliban-style country.

Hamas supporters 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas supporters 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Unidentified gunmen attacked several Internet cafes in the Gaza Strip with hand grenades and bombs before dawn on Wednesday. The simultaneous attacks caused heavy physical damage, but no one was injured. There were no claims of responsibility, but some cafe owners accused Muslim fundamentalists who have been campaigning against Internet cafes and surfers. "Some fanatics are unhappy with the fact that many young people have access to the Internet," one owner told The Jerusalem Post. "They claim that the Internet is corrupting young people because it exposes them to Western values and culture and pornographic sites." Another owner, Ala Shawwa, described the attacks as a "cowardly act." He estimated losses to his Internet cafe at $3,000, adding that the place had been entirely destroyed. Nabil al-Atleh, owner of Coffee Net in the center of Gaza City, said the attacks occurred just after before dawn prayers in local mosques. He said all 30 computers were destroyed, estimating the damage at more than $5,000. In Rafah, arsonists set fire to a shop selling cassettes and CDs. The owner, Farid Awad, said masked gunmen had warned him in the past not to sell modern music. "Those behind these attacks are trying to turn Palestine into a Taliban-style country, where people were executed for watching TV," said a Fatah official. "What will the next move be? Are they going to confiscate satellite dishes and radios from our homes?" Because most residents cannot afford personal computers, several Internet cafes have opened across the Gaza Strip in the past few months.