Army pulls noncombat soldiers out of Gaza area

Monday, May 26, 2008 |  staff writer

The Israeli army has decided to move noncombat soldiers from the Erez crossing near Gaza out of missile range causing outrage among residents who live in the Gaza belt.

The decision came before a slew of attacks by Palestinians on Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint including a truck bomb attack last week, which caused extensive damage to the facility. The base has become a favorite target for terrorists since Hamas’ violent takeover of the Strip in June 2007, with more than 200 mortars and rockets fired in its direction.

Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlav decided that the soldiers serving in the Coordination and Liaison Administration near the Erez crossing would be moved to the military base about 10 miles away and not currently under missile threat.

“In light of the security situation at the Erez crossing the coordinator decided to temporarily relocate the soldiers to a home front base because there is no point in jeopardizing their lives. The decision is temporary and may change according to security estimates,” said a statement from Mishlav’s office.

The community’s council head, Rivka Saad, said the evacuation put civilians on the front line.

“We continue to expect the state to protect us, because we are staying here. We have no other country,” she said.

Knesset members also protested the move.

“The decision by the Israel Defense Force leadership to evacuate female and male non-combatant soldiers from the front to the rear is a blow to morale and weakens the ability of the residents who have been under terror attack for the last seven years,” said Knesset Member Shai Hermesh (Kadima), a resident of Kfar Aza. “I expect the government to understand that time is running out and it is time to act.”

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