(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday (Tuesday), 12 July 2005, consulted with Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra and senior security establishment officials on restricting entry to the areas that are to be evacuated in the Gaza Strip and in northern Samaria.

Prime Minister Sharon and Ministers Mofaz and Ezra accepted the recommendation of the senior security establishment officials to restrict entry into the aforementioned areas as of today (Wednesday), 13 July 2005. Therefore, the Prime Minister has, this morning, signed an order to this effect, as per the Disengagement Plan Implementation Law. The order will take effect very shortly, as soon as it is published in the official gazette (Reshumot).

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GOC Southern Command signs order restricting entrance to the Gaza Strip

Following the publication of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s order today (Wednesday), 13 July 2005,  restricting entry into the Gaza Strip, GOC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel has declared a full entry restriction order into the Gaza Strip. The restriction on entry does not apply to residents of the area, as per the list valid as of 17 March 2005. Additionally, the order does not apply to security forces personnel, firefighters, Magen David Adom personnel and others whose entry is permitted by the authorities.

Additionally, Maj.-Gen. Harel declared an order restricting movement in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, an area delineated between the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip, Route #232, Route #34 Route #3411. In this area, disruption and limitation of travel and movement are expected, due to the necessity of the IDF and the Israel Police to delay and prevent radical elements from reaching the Gaza Strip area.

The Restricted Entry Order was issued in order to prevent attempts by various elements to disrupt and thwart the evacuation of communities in Gaza within the framework of the Disengagement Plan. The issuing of the order, in coordination with the Israel Police, was timed as such in light of the uncontrolled entry of extremist elements into the area and in light of efforts to organize a large-scale march into Gaza.

Following the declaration of the restriction of entry into the Gaza Strip, the IDF will operate a special Permit Office to allow Israelis living in the Gaza Strip to file requests for entry into the Gaza Strip for a predefined period of time, for their guests, relatives and any additional persons whom they wish to bring into the area. In addition, the Permit Office will issue permanent certificates to residents of the area and temporary permits for any additional persons who wish to enter the Gaza Strip, and whose entry is allowed by the Permit Office.

The Permit Office, which will be managed by the Homefront Command, will operate according to the responsibilities delegated to it by Maj.-Gen. Harel, and in keeping with Southern Command policy as determined by periodic security assessments. The Permit Office will operate 24 hours a day; its phone numbers will be published shortly.

In addition to the opening of the Permit Office, the Homefront Command will operate a National Information Office to provide responses and instructions via telephone or the internet, to every civilian who is interested in clarifying matters related to the restriction of entry into the Gaza Strip, the procedure for issuing permits and the regulations of the restriction policy as they are periodically determined by Maj.-Gen. Harel. The Information Office will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week; its telephone number will be published shortly.

The IDF, in cooperation with the Israel Police, will take all measures necessary to minimize the disruption of the daily lives of the Israeli residents of the Gaza Strip. In addition to the opening of the Permit Office and the Information Office, the IDF and Israel Police have reinforced the personnel at the crossings into the Gaza Strip in order to aid the residents of the area and to minimize the possibility of complications that may arise regarding the entry of the residents or their relatives and guests into the Gaza Strip.

The IDF and Israel Police remain in close contact with the leaders of the Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip and are updating them regularly on developments.

The IDF will continue to periodically reassess and re-evaluate the necessity for restricted entry.

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Policy of limited entry to the area designated for evacuation in northern West Bank

Today, July 13, 2005, the Prime Minister released an order limiting the entrance to the areas due to be evacuated in the Gaza Strip and Northern West Bank. Following the release of the Prime Minister’s order, GOC Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh, signed an order limiting the entrance and stay in the area due to be evacuated, and in the areas around those due to be evacuated in the northern West Bank.

However, due to the fact that there are no immediate attempts of radicals to thwart or interfere with the evacuation mission of the northern Samaria communities, the GOC Central Command decided to allow the entrance of Israelis whose presence in the area will not interfere with the upcoming evacuation. The IDF will continue to conduct ongoing security assessments in order to evaluate the policy regarding the entry limitation into the areas that are due to be evacuated.