In a move that has the residents of communities near Gaza worried, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlav, decided Sunday to reduce the number of personnel from the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration based near the Erez crossing to the northern Gaza Strip. Part of the staff was moved to the Julis Base, some 17 kilometers from the Gaza border. "It seems that the IDF has forgotten that its role is to protect citizens - not vice versa," said MK Arye Eldad (NU/NRP) in response. Eldad added that the IDF, which he said was evacuating soldiers "because they are close to an enemy," would "eventually forfeit the citizens, and misappropriate its obligations to defend the State of Israel." The MK urged Defense Minister Ehud Barak to order the army to immediately "refresh the army's memory as to its obligations," and to remind them that "the best defense of all is offense." Also responding to the IDF's announcement, Likud MK Yuli Edelstein attributed the evacuation of troops to the IDF having "internalized the government's lack of strength," adding that the army "prefers not to pay with the lives of soldiers." He said that the move sends a "defeatist message" to Israel's enemies. Officials said the decision was made following Thursday morning's car-bomb attack against Erez, but had been under consideration for several weeks. The attack caused serious damage to the Liaison Administration's offices. The base and the surrounding area have been the target of almost daily Kassam rocket and mortar fire from Gaza; in one such mortar shelling about a year ago, four soldiers were wounded. So far, only civilian government employees who work in the Liaison Administration have been transferred out of the base. Officials said soldiers who could do their work from outside the Liaison Administration office and were not vital personnel would be transferred in the coming days. Members of kibbutzim and moshavim near Gaza said Sunday the move showed weakness toward Hamas, and that they were being abandoned by the army.