Private firm takes over security at Erez

A civilian security company took over the inspection of the Erez terminal crossing in northern Gaza on Thursday, marking the end of the IDF presence there in the framework of the Gaza disengagement. Erez is the first of a number of crossings where security control will be transferred from the IDF to civilian companies. "The defense establishment will maintain overall control at the crossing. The idea is to minimize the level of friction during inspections and improve the level of service," a security official said. The army said civilian security guards will act in accordance with instructions from the Defense Ministry and IDF, and the transfer of security control will be carried out gradually and supervised by the army and security establishment. The decision to implement the procedure gradually is to minimize hitches that may cause delays at the crossing, security officials said. Erez will continue to be used as the main crossing for merchandise and Palestinian laborers to and from Gaza, and will also facilitate the entry of diplomats, special humanitarian assistance cases and members of international relief organizations. Earlier this week, terror threats closed the Karni crossing, the main passage for goods in northern Gaza, after the Palestinian Authority failed to act and nab those planning to launch an attack on the Israeli side of the crossing. Karni will remain closed until further notice, Israeli security officials said. Last month, Defense Ministry director-general Ya'acov Toren signed a memorandum with US Ambassador Richard Jones regarding the use of private security firms at the crossings and the need to install special scanning devices.