Tel Aviv (dpa) - Israel said Friday that it will create a security zone on Palestinian territory in the northern Gaza Strip to protect nearby Israeli towns and villages against militant attacks.
The buffer strip, ordered by Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz, will include a physical security barrier, a ministry official in Tel Aviv told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa.
It will widen the distance between Israeli communities in the area and the Gaza Strip border "at the expense of Palestinian territory", she said, giving no further details.
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the decision and said it would make Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip incomplete.
"This reflects that Israel continues to be the occupying power in Gaza and that it maintains the mentality of an occupier. It shows that occupation is not over yet for Gaza," he told dpa.
Reacting to Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon's speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Erekat said: "We call upon Mr. Sharon that if he is serious about peace, he should resume permanent status negotiations immediately and without any further delay."