Tags: Israel | Easing | Restrictions | Territories

Israel Easing Restrictions in Territories

Sunday, 01 June 2003 12:00 AM

Almost 15,000 Palestinian workers and businessmen from the Gaza Strip will be allowed to enter Israel after the closure is lifted. A spokeswoman for the defense minister told United Press International that an additional 10,000 Palestinians from the West Bank would be allowed to enter Israel to work.

The workers must obtain entry permits from their employers. Israeli security guards will run those cards through computers checking their identities before allowing the workers into Israel.

The first Palestinians were expected to cross into Israel early Sunday, the spokeswoman said.

However, the restrictions on movement between West Bank towns will remain in effect, but Palestinian government officials will receive special travel passes, the spokeswoman said.

Israel is also expected to release some 100 administrative detainees.

According to Israel Radio, the moves will include a gradual easing of the closure on the West Bank, and the expansion of the Palestinian fishing zone off the Gaza Strip. However, no mention was made of when the release of Palestinian prisoners and detainees would start.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian militant was killed early Saturday after Israeli soldiers saw him and a friend plant a bomb near Jenin, the Israel Defense Forces spokesman said.

The encounter occurred on a route Israelis use in that area of the northern West Bank. Soldiers said they saw the two plant a 70-kilogram charge -- an exceptionally large bomb by local standards -- and shot and killed one of them. The other fled and was caught a few minutes later, the army reported.

The shooting incident came as the Palestinian Authority's minister of culture announced PA Prime Minister Abu Mazen would shortly leave the West Bank for the Gaza Strip to meet with representatives there of the militant group Hamas.

Ziad Abu Amer told United Press International that Abu Mazen's "very positive" talks with Hamas representatives could end with a ceasefire agreement, as one of Israel' preconditions for the implementation of the 'road map.'

"This agreement could even be reached before the Egypt summit due next week," Abu Amer said.

Abu Amer, who is the PA designate for making contacts with the different Palestinian factions, added: "We made every possible effort to establish the suitable atmosphere for the Palestinian dialogue, and we have accomplished a lot, but it doesn't mean that the process is easy." He went on to say, however, "the different Palestinian factions are now aware that what should be done to achieve the Palestinians' security, and adopt measures that serve the Palestinian cause as well as the peace process."

On Saturday, Abu Mazen met on Saturday with American Undersecretary of State William Burns in Ramallah, Palestinian government sources said. The meeting reportedly aimed at finalizing plans for the planned June 4 summit in the Jordanian port of Aqaba between U.S. President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Abu Mazen.

Burns, who declined to comment on the talks as he left the West Bank city, met Friday with the Palestinian minister for security, Mohammed Dahlan. Palestinian sources said those talks focused more generally on the implementation of the road map for Middle East peace and on the leadership of Palestinian security services.

In another incident 23-year-old Hisham Tafesh died Saturday of wounds sustained last Thursday, when the Israeli army fired a tank shell at an area near Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian medics at Shiffa Hospital.

In yet another incident the Israeli Army, backed by tanks and military bulldozers, razed a Palestinian-owned house in Rafah city Saturday, at the south end of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources and eyewitnesses reported.

Eyewitnesses said that a tank backed by four Israeli tanks had completely razed a Palestinian owned house at Tel Al-Zu'rub neighborhood in Rafah, without allowing its residents to evacuate its contents.

The Israeli army said soldiers found there the exit to a tunnel leading to Egypt blew up the tunnel and demolished the house. Israel has accused Palestinians in the area of using the tunnels to smuggle arms as well as black market items into the Palestinian territories.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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Almost 15,000 Palestinian workers and businessmen from the Gaza Strip will be allowed to enter Israel after the closure is lifted. A spokeswoman for the defense minister told United Press International that an additional 10,000 Palestinians from the West Bank would be...
Israel,Easing,Restrictions,Territories
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2003-00-01
Sunday, 01 June 2003 12:00 AM
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