The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has decided to end its security presence along the communities adjacent to the Israel-Gaza border, sparking strong protests by the area’s residents.
Following Operation Protective Edge, the IDF deployed hundreds of soldiers in and around the border communities, but over the past month the security presence has been scaled back. Soldiers are expected to leave most of the area on Sunday, except for Kibbutz Nahal Oz, Moshav Netiv Haasara, and Kibbutz Kerem Shalom.
The special deployment was originally meant to end Dec. 31, but a series of protests staged by the area’s residents prompted the military to hold a special situation assessment on Jan. 1, during which IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz sought to personally review the sensitive issue. After the review, the military maintained its decision to pull the troops out of the area on Jan. 4.
“It’s inconceivable that the soldiers would be ordered to leave before a new barrier is formed along the border fence,” Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin said.
Eitan Broshi, head of the Kibbutz Movement, sent a letter to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon demanding that he order the IDF to resume a full security presence in the Gaza border-adjacent communities.
“This unilateral move, which negates the understanding reached with [the communities] following Operation Protective Edge, significantly undermines the residents’ sense of security, which we have been trying to restore despite the constant threat they find themselves under,” Broshi’s wrote, according to the NRG news website.