Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie urged Palestinians to stop looting and start rebuilding in abandoned Jewish settlements on Tuesday following Israel's military withdrawal from Gaza.
A day after Israelis left and wild celebrations erupted, Palestinian security forces began restricting movement into ex-settlements and intercepting scavengers to seize booty carried away from ransacked synagogues and greenhouses.
But chaos reigned along the Gaza-Egypt border for a second day as Palestinians, no longer stymied by an Israeli army buffer strip, scaled walls to stock up on cheap Egyptian cigarettes, livestock and electrical items for use or resale at home. Thousands swarmed back and forth across the frontier with little hindrance from Palestinian or Egyptian security units, according to Reuters.
The disorder raised questions about Egypt's deal with Israel to maintain security along the boundary after the pullout, particularly against possible arms smuggling to Palestinian militants in Gaza, although there was no sign of that so far.
Qurie's appeal reflected a concern to show the world that Palestinians can establish order and good governance in Gaza as a proving ground for a future state comprising the coastal strip as well as the larger West Bank.
"The nightmare is over, the occupation has gone and Gaza is now without settlers ... Today we begin the work of rebuilding," he told Palestinians in Neve Dekalim, the site of what had been Israel's largest settlement in Gaza.
He urged the hundreds of people still entering the area to stop stripping synagogues and hothouses of building materials and equipment left behind after 38 years of Israeli occupation.
"You won't profit from a pillar, plastic tubing or pieces of wood that you are taking. Protect them because they are yours."
After generally standing by and at times even joining the wild celebrations, security men began controlling entry and exit from settlements and confiscating piping, roof tiles, window frames and other pilfered items.