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Home >> World
UPDATED: 10:48, September 13, 2005
Roundup: IDF completes Gaza pullout to end 38-year military rule
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The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) locked a gate at the Kissufim crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip at around 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) Monday, marking the end of a 38-year military rule of the strip.

"The mission has been completed and an era has ended," said Brig. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, IDF commander of the Gaza Strip, at a brief ceremony.

"From now on, the Palestinian (National) Authority (PNA) bears responsibility for what happens in the Gaza Strip," he said. "The responsibility for the security of the citizens of the state continues to be all ours."

Israeli soldiers built a new gate in Kissufim at night. Two armored bulldozers quickly built a road block inside the gate under the supervision of Kochavi.

Kochavi's arrival capped a night-long evacuation of the last Israeli soldiers in Gaza after clearing out settlers in the strip last month. Kissufim then became the new border between Israel and Gaza.

Two soldiers in purple berets locked the gate and Kochavi shook their hands. Israeli soldiers then raised the flag, removed from Gaza's military headquarters, on the Israeli side of the border.

Convoys of IDF tanks and armored vehicles began rolling out of Gaza through three crossings at around 2:50 a.m. (1150 GMT Sunday) Monday as military helicopters hovered.

In the meantime, sound of gunshots from nearby Palestinian villages was heard clearly.

Just after sunrise, the last column of tanks rumbled out of the strip, passing through Kissufim crossing into Israel.

In an interview with Israel Radio, the head of the IDF Operations Directorate, said the troops leaving Gaza will redeploy in southern Israel to protect residents of towns near the strip.

PNA forces, meanwhile, took control of the areas cleared by the Israelis.

Palestinian officers in red berets entered what was once the largest settlement, Neveh Dekalim, where IDF forces had left their headquarters behind for Palestinian use. The PNA officers raised a Palestinian flag at the site.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres told Israel Radio Monday morning that settling Gaza was a historic mistake. "I'm proud we've fixed it." said Peres.

Source: Xinhua

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