Commander of the Southern Command: As of midnight 14 August, staying in the Gaza Strip will be illegal

(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

On Monday, August 8, 2005, IDF officers distributed two letters to the secretaries of all settlements slated for evacuation.

The first letter, signed by IDF GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Dan Harel, informs residents that all border crossings into the Gaza Strip will be closed to Israeli citizens at midnight on Sunday, August 14, after Tisha B’av ends, and that from that time only security forces will be permitted to enter the Strip.

"In accordance with the law on the implementation of the Disengagement Plan, 2005, and in accordance with the government’s decision and the order of the prime minister, residents have been asked to clear out their houses and leave the Gaza Strip by midnight of the 14th of August, 2005. At this hour, the period of ‘voluntary evacuation’ will cease and the checkpoint at the entrance of the Gaza Strip will be closed to entering citizens. After midnight on the 14th of August, continued stay in the Gaza Strip will be considered illegal.

The letter went on to say that, "Over the years the IDF has protected the Gaza communities with a sense of unity with the residents and a feeling that it was carrying out a national mission.  So too now, during this operation, the IDF will act with a sense of commonality with the Gaza residents, sharing their journey and pain. With that said, the IDF as the army of a democratic country, will complete the mission in its entirety."

The Chief of Staff of the Southern Command, Brigadier General Guy Zur, also addressed a letter to Gaza residents, delineating the procedures to be followed by the army during the upcoming evacuation:

"On the morning of 15 August 2005, security forces will arrive and give you orders to vacate your homes. Assistance will be given to residents who choose to leave before midnight of the 16th of August in order to make any last minute organization they need to do easier for them. Assistance will be given by soldiers and moving companies upon request to pack away personal belongings and public property (not including business property).  Also, those who choose to leave before this time will be allowed to leave in their own private vehicles. Those who leave by the designated time will be able to choose how they part from their homes."

Change of policy regarding entry into the Gaza Strip
August 11, 2005

Following a security assessment of the Southern Command, effective today, August 11, 2005, only residents of the Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip will be allowed to enter into the Gaza Strip. Rescue and security personnel and others responsible for supplying basic goods and services to residents and those employed to transfer the belongings of the residents will also be allowed entry.

This policy change was decided upon in light of the illegal presence of a large number of individuals who have remained in the Gaza Strip long after their entry permits expired; these individuals disrupt the daily lives of residents and aim to prevent the implementation of the disengagement plan. 

In light of the complex operations that the IDF must carry out in preparation for the implementation of Disengagement plan, the IDF is maintaining contact with Gaza Strip residents and their representatives, intended to minimize any inconvenience to their daily lives.