JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The Israeli army reopened the Gaza Strip”s Jewish settlements area on Friday, a day after it declared it a closed military zone, the army said.
A spokeswoman said the closure had been lifted allowing Israelis free access to the area. The closure was imposed on Thursday following clashes with ultra-radical Jews resisting the planned pullout from the territory, the army said.
Security sources said the decision to prevent Israelis, other than residents, from entering all 21 settlements on Thursday was intended to prevent an additional influx of ultranationalists who have attacked Palestinians and security forces in the area in the past few days.
"The lifting of this order is possible following the completion of the mission of taking over and the evacuation of the hotel in Neve Dekalim, as well as the radical groups inside it," the army said in a statement.
In tandem with the lifting of entry restrictions, the Israeli army”s senior commander in the area ordered a limit on the number of goods and belongings being brought into the area to enable an extended stay by settlers.
"The … order will limit the ability of persons entering the Gaza Strip, both residents and non-residents, to transfer various types of equipment … aimed at opposing the evacuation that is to be carried out as part of the Disengagement Plan," the statement said.
Israel”s plan to evacuate all 21 Gaza settlements and four of 120 in the West Bank is set to begin in August, a plan U.S.-led mediators hope will revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. But the plan has been confronted with protests by radical nationalists.