The Israeli cabinet has declared an end to military rule in Gaza. The move effectively gives the green light for a final evacuation of Israelitroops after nearly 40 years of occupation.
Ministers also approved removing forces from Gaza’s flashpoint southern border with Egypt, where Egyptian troops are now deploying along what is known as the“Philadephi Route.”
The Israeli military withdrawal is the last act in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s so-called “disengagement” plan from the Palestinians, which has already involved the removal of 9,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza and a corner of the West Bank.
Ministers have also voted to leave synagogues still standing in the enclaves intact. It comes after leading rabbis said destroying them would be a greater sin that possible desecration by Palestinians.
Egypt’s deployment of guards is in line with an agreement with Israel.
It comes amid a debate over whether Gaza will still be considered occupied territory after Israel’s full withdrawal.
Israel says no. However Palestinians argue that occupation will not truly be over until Israel gives up control of Gaza’s air space, sea lanes and border crossings.