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Israel announces halt to ´offensive operations´ in Gaza Strip (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 01/28/05 7:40 AM ET)Source: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1515&ncid=1515&e=5&u=/afp/20050128/wl_mideast_afp/mideastunrestgaza_050128124034 AFP} Agence France Presse AFP} Agence France Presse Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
JERUSALEM (AFP) - The Israeli army´s chief of staff General Moshe Yaalon ordered an end to "offensive operations" in the Gaza Strip after the deployment of thousands of Palestinians security forces in the territory.

"In the Gaza Strip, offensive operations will cease in the areas where the Palestinian security forces have been deployed, where there is calm and where there is no terrorist activity against Israeli civilians and soldiers," Yaalon said in a statement.

The announcement came several hours after around 2,000 members of the Palestinian police force and other security branches were deployed in southern Gaza with orders to prevent attacks by militant groups.

A similar number have already been deployed in the north of the territory.

Yaalon also said that targetted killing operations of militants in the West Bank would only be carried out with his own authorisation.

"IDF (army) targetting of terrorists in the West Bank will take place only if there is an immediate threat by active terrorist cells and only with his explicit authorisation."

Mohammed Dahlan, the powerful former chief of Palestinian security in Gaza who has recently been in talks with Israeli officials, was delighted by the move.

"It is an encouraging measure which should facilitate the conclusion of a ceasefire agreemet," Dahlan told AFP.

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas has been trying to persuade armed factions such as Hamas to call a formal halt to its campaign of anti- Israeli attacks but has also been urging Israel to reciprocate by ending its military activities in the occupied territories and start releasing Palestinian prisoners.

Yaalon´s statement also announced that the three major border crossings in Gaza would reopen fully next week.

"In accordance with security assessments and subordinate to Palestinian security deployments to stop terror attacks at crossings, the IDF will make arrangements to reopen Erez, Karni and Rafah crossings next week for the benefit of the residents of the Gaza Strip," it said.

A partial lifting of the closures on the terminals, which have all been the site of recent attacks by militants, had already been announced. (Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse. 01/28/05)

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