(Communicated by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Spokesperson)

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlav, in coordination with the security establishment, decided today (Thursday), 22 July 2004, to open the Nitzana border crossing in order to enable 2,000 Palestinians, who are currently stuck in Egypt due to the closing of Rafah crossing, to return to the Gaza Strip.  Since the security situation in Gaza does not permit the Rafah crossing to be opened, Maj.-Gen. Mishlav
took the aforementioned decision as a humanitarian gesture designed to meet the needs of the Palestinian population.

However, Palestinian Authority (PA) have decided to block this initiative and are preventing the stranded Palestinians from entering the Gaza Strip. Maj.-Gen. Mishlav has condemned the PA decision and has said that Israel is determined to do its utmost to assure the Palestinian population’s quality of life while balancing humanitarian interests with security concerns.