Hanan Greenberg
October 29, 2008 - 8:00pm

Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided Thursday not to extend the "special situation in the home front" status declared in the Gaza vicinity communities 18 months ago.

A "special situation" order enables security forces to instruct the shutting down of schools, to operate essential industries and to close certain areas for traffic. The order was first applied on the Gaza communities in May 2007 and has since been extended several times.

Barak's decision was made just a month shy of the scheduled end of the ceasefire agreement between Israel and the militant groups in the Gaza Strip.

The defense establishment opted not to lift the order when the ceasefire first took effect in an effort to reassess the new security situation it would entail.

The armistice has since been deemed successful, prompting the defense minister to decide against renewing the special situation status; opting instead to return all civil jurisdiction to the proper civilian authorities.

Should the need arise the defense minister can reinstate the order for an immediate 48-hour period, without the government's approval.


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