(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

In light of the ongoing cooperation with the Palestinian Authority the IDF will continue to ease restrictions for the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

  • Six hundred additional Palestinian workers and 300 additional merchants from the Gaza Strip have been authorized to enter Israel via the Erez crossing to work in Israel, and half of the merchants have been authorized to stay in Israel overnight. This brings the total number of Palestinian workers authorized to enter Israel via the Erez crossing to a maximum of 1600 and the total number of Palestinian merchants authorized to a maximum of 800.
  • One hundred additional Palestinian workers have been authorized to work in the Erez industrial zone, bringing the total number to  a maximum of 600.
  • The age limit of those exiting the Gaza Strip via the Rafah Terminal has been lifted, while security precautions have been increased.

Decision to change policy of demolition of terrorists’ houses

About four months ago the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, ordered thorough research into the policy of the demolition of terrorists’ houses. As part of the research, a committee was founded to examine the issue, headed by the commander of C4I, Maj. Gen. Udi Shani.

Following the completion of the committee’s examination, the Minister of Defense decided to accept the recommendation of the Chief of Staff to change the policy, and stop exercising the legal right to demolish terrorists’ houses as a means of deterrence. In addition, the Chief of Staff clarified that in the event of an extreme change in circumstances, this decision will be reexamined.

The IDF has in the past exercised its legal authority to demolish terrorists’ houses. This has been done within the framework of the State of Israel’s overall effort to defeat Palestinian terror, and as part of Israel’s obligation and right to defend itself and to provide security for its citizens. As a means of deterring potential terrorists from carrying out attacks, the houses of terrorists who actively participated in terrorist activity have been demolished.

The necessity of this tactic as part of the fight against terror is often reevaluated, taking into consideration assessments regarding the extent of the terror threat and the effectiveness of this serious measure, as well as other measures that may be used as part of the fight against terror.

Assigned residence orders to 16 Palestinians involved in terrorist activity canceled

Following a decision by the political echelon and in light of the ongoing cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, the IDF will continue to ease restrictions for the Palestinian population, including the cancellation of assigned residence orders to 16 Palestinians who were involved in terrorist activity against Israeli targets.

As part of the preventative security measures taken to reduce the risk of terrorist attacks, the IDF has during the last three years moved Palestinian detainees involved in terrorist activity from their center of activity in the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. The detainees who could not be charged were transported to the Gaza Strip in accordance with assigned residence orders, which were legally approved by the High Court of Justice.

The 16 Palestinians will leave the Gaza Strip on Sunday, February 20, 2005, via the Erez Crossing and will go through thorough security checks. Then, they will be transported by the IDF to the Bitunia Crossing, from which they will return to their homes inside the West Bank.