(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman and the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories)

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.

The West Bank: 900 additional Palestinian merchants and businessmen from the West Bank have been authorized to enter Israel. This brings the total number of Palestinian merchants and businessman authorized to enter Israel so far to a total of 8,500.
 
The Gaza Strip:  500 additional merchants from the Gaza strip have been authorized to enter Israel via the Erez crossing. This brings the total number of Palestinian merchants from the Gaza Strip authorized to work in Israel so far to a total of 1,300. 

The Erez crossing was reopened, following renovations works conducted at the crossing during the past several months. The renovated crossing includes four lanes with advanced monitoring devices, to allow convenient passage for all those using it, including Palestinian workers, merchants and businessmen, Palestinian VIPs employees of international organizations and aid organizations, diplomats and media. The friction between the passers and the IDF soldiers securing the crossing have been minimized as advanced technological equipment was installed at the crossing, for the convenience of the passers and the security of the soldiers.     

The Abu Holly junction (in the southern Gaza Strip) will be opened 24 hours a day for the passage of private vehicles, subject to security limitations. Since February 9, 2005, the junction is open 24 hours a day for the passage of public transportation and for the passage of the vehicles of the Palestinian Security Agencies.

Beginning February 15, 2005, the opening hours of the Karni crossing will be expanded, so that the crossing will open, seven days a week, until 11:00 P.M.
 
These steps follow the reopening of the Erez crossing and the Erez industrial zone on February 9, 2005, the reopening of the Karni crossing on February 7, 2005, for the passage of agricultural merchandise and humanitarian aid and the reopening of the Rafah crossing for the passage of Palestinians on February 1, 2005.