(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

Today, Monday, August 22, 2005, the evacuation of all Israeli civilians from the Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip has been completed, in accordance with the Implementation of the Disengagement Plan Law 2005.

The evacuation process that lasted five days, consisted of the evacuation of approximately 8000 civilians, from 21 Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip. During the evacuation, Palestinian gunmen opened fire at IDF positions and Israeli communities on 18 separate occasions, lightly wounding two IDF soldiers. Furthermore, Palestinians launched two Qassam rockets and fired ten mortar shells. Two explosive devices were uncovered and neutralized, in addition to an explosive belt that was uncovered in the Mouassi region, that was intended to be used in a terror attack in Gush Katif. 

During the evacuation of the community of Kfar Darom, on August 18, 2005, approximately 200 civilians, mostly youths, barricaded themselves in the synagogue of the community. After dialogue between IDF and Israel Police officers with representatives of the civilians in the synagogue failed, it was decided to break into the synagogue and remove those barricading themselves inside. The security forces who had approached the roof of the synagogue, where a large number of protesters were located, encountered especially violent protests, during which eggs, paint cans filled with oil, tar and toxic acid were hurled at the forces. 31 IDF soldiers and Israel Police forces were lightly wounded, some as a result of the acid on their skin. The wounded were taken to hospital for medical treatment. After a violent confrontation that lasted several hours, in which the forces were forced to disperse the rioters with water cannons, the synagogue was evacuated, and a number of rioters were arrested.

Even before the completion of the evacuation of the civilians in the Gaza Strip, Defense Ministry teams have begun to operate in the evacuated communities, in order to pack and remove the belongings of those residents who did not pack before the evacuation. The belongings will be transferred by the Defense Ministry to the location of the resident’s choosing. In addition, the Defense Ministry has begun the demolition of private buildings in the evacuated communities.

At the same time, the IDF continues to remove the military infrastructure that served the Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip. After the completion of all aforementioned stages and in accordance with the decision of the Israeli government, IDF forces will evacuate the Gaza Strip and redeploy along its new lines of defense.

Upon the IDF’s final evacuation of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority and its security apparatus will be solely and fully responsible for order and security throughout the Gaza Strip and in general for preventing Palestinian terror attacks in Israeli territory.

The IDF will deploy outside the Gaza Strip, along security lines that will best provide security to the Israeli civilians living in the region and throughout Israel.

The completion of the evacuation of the Israeli residents and communities of Gush Katif, Netzarim and the northern Gaza Strip, brings to a close an important chapter of 30 years of settlement. The IDF has accompanied the settlement of the Gaza Strip from its first days, and participated in the founding of communities with the Nahal Brigade. The IDF served as a military authority also involved in the civilian aspects of settlement, and above all as a security force ensuring the safety of the residents, especially in the last few years of conflict. IDF commanders have for decades accompanied the residents of the Gaza Strip and witnessed the development of the communities, the daily needs of the residents, their distress, their moments of joy and sadness. It is especially during these difficult and sad times of the evacuation of the residents, that the strong bond between IDF commanders and soldiers and the residents of the Gaza Strip came to the fore, and that the evacuating forces and those evacuated were able to overcome this challenge united.

IDF commanders and soldiers are all joined in the hope that the residents’ relocation will be quick and successful. The IDF salutes the memory of the residents of the Gaza Strip who fell victim during the war against terror.

New procedures for entry into the Gaza Strip

Effective from August 15, 2005 entry to the Gaza Strip was forbidden according by order of the Government.

The entry procedures for former residents, volunteers and members of the press, into the Gaza Strip, will become more stringent as of tomorrow, August 23, 2005.

The entry of civilians into evacuated communities, for the purpose of supervising the packing of belongings will take place in a centralized and coordinated manner in each community and will be conditioned on the holding of a letter from the IDF and the disengagement administration of the government, SELA.

Entry into the Gaza Strip will only be on buses, the pick-up location will be given in the letter aforementioned. No private vehicles will be allowed into the Gaza Strip, except those who have been granted special permission by the permit office, and only in exceptional circumstances.

The IDF will reopen the permit office that will distribute all entry permits needed to help with the removal of agricultural or business infrastructure and will attend to any mitigating circumstances. The telephone number of the permit office is: 08-9927272

Members of the press that have permanent infrastructure in the Gaza Strip are required to remove it from the Gaza Strip by 10pm. Entry of the press into the Gaza Strip will only be done in organized IDF Spokesperson’s Unit shuttles that will leave from the Eshkol Media Centre.

The IDF and Israel Police are in constant contact with representatives of the evacuated communities leaders.