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Monday, July 18, 2005
[Barn door reopened] IDF set to remove roadblocks splitting Gaza into three zones

IDF set to remove roadblocks splitting Gaza into three zones
By Haaretz Staff 19 July 2005
www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/601621.html

The Israel Defense Forces decided Tuesday morning to remove roadblocks posed
in the Gaza Strip on Friday to separate it into three sections, Israel Radio
said.

After reassessing the security situation in Gaza, defense officials have
ordered to remove roadblocks at a junction leading to the Gush Katif
settlement bloc and at Netzarim Junction, according to the report.

Hamas agrees to resume truce, end 'battle' with PA

The militant group Hamas agreed Monday to stop rocket and mortar fire on
Israeli targets and resume the truce agreed upon four months ago, according
to Palestinian sources.

During meetings with the Egyptian delegation to the Gaza Strip, Hamas also
agreed to end the "battle of declarations" with the Palestinian Authority
and cease calling for the dismissal of Interior Minister Nasser Yousef, the
sources said.

Hamas officials emphasized that the organization's commitment to maintain
the truce was dependent on Israel's actions and that Hamas considered itself
free "to respond" to perceived truce violations by Israel.

Palestinian fire on Gush Katif declined Monday, and the western Negev was
not targeted at all, for the first time since last Thursday. By Monday
evening, 13 mortar shells had been fired at IDF outposts in Gush Katif and
the Rafah region. There were no casualties.

Two more mortars fell before dawn on Tuesday in a Gush Katif settlement. No
one was hurt in the attacks but damage was caused to a security fence in the
area, Israel Radio said. Earlier, a foreign worker had been lightly wounded
in mortar fire in Gaza.

The IDF remained on alert for possible entry into Khan Yunis and the
northern Gaza Strip.

A 14-year-old Palestinian boy, Raeeb al-Masri, was killed Monday by IDF
soldiers, who opened fire at a convoy of Palestinian cars that had been
waiting at the closed Gush Katif checkpoint for hours and decided to force
their way through. According to Palestinian sources, Masri was in one of the
detained cars. He was shot in the chest and died later at the hospital.

Sderot and western Negev communities endured a day of tense quiet,
continuing the gradual decrease in fire since Saturday. This trend appears
to be related partly to preliminary steps by the Palestinian Authority
against the terrorist organizations, and partly to the threat of a major
Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip prior to disengagement.

The IDF continues to concentrate forces, including tanks and armored
personnel carriers, at points within clear sight of the Palestinians and
also photographed by international media. The Givati Brigade is on alert for
entry into the northern Gaza Strip towns of Beit Hanun and Beit Lahia, while
the Golani Brigade is on a similar alert for action in Khan Yunis.

The IDF assumes the government will not order such action if there are no
further casualties. The sides prefer to wait for U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, who is due in the region at the end of this week.

Meanwhile, Defense Ministry Director General Amos Yaron announced Monday
afternoon that his ministry will work with the Finance Ministry to install
protective measures for communities surrounding Gaza as needed, at a total
outlay of NIS 70 million. Yaron's announcement came in response to a demand
by Vice Premier Shimon Peres at a meeting Monday morning of the ministerial
committee for Negev and Galilee development.

In a separate development, the Knesset Finance Committee is proposing an
increase in tax relief for Sderot residents from 13 percent to 16 percent.
MK Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) presented the initiative Monday after the committee
approved a NIS 10 million transfer from the treasury to Sderot to cover the
city's 2004 deficit.

Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal also attended the meeting, at which MKs demanded that
the treasury transfer to Sderot additional funds the state is holding up. MK
Daniel Benlulu (Likud) demanded the transfer of NIS 270 million previously
promised to Sderot for protective measures. The chair of the defense budget
committee, MK Avraham Shochat (Labor), said he would convene his committee
for an urgent discussion on approving the transfer.

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