Israel announces halt to ´offensive operations´ in Gaza Strip (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 01/28/05 7:40 AM ET)
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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
"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
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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