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All Restrictions on Arab Movement in Jaffa. Ramleh and Lydda Removed; Curfew Lifted

The Israeli Government today removed all restrictions governing the movement of Arabs living in the towns of Jaffa, Ramleh and Lydda. Simultaneously, jurisdiction over these Arabs will be shifted from special Israeli military bodies to the regular civil authorities. Approximately 10,000 Arabs are involved.

As of tonight, the Arabs will be free to leave the enclosed urban districts in which they have been living, and will be free to move about the country without special passes. The curfew from 10 P.M. to 5 A.M., which has been in existence for about a year, will also be lifted.

Earlier this week it had been announced that the curfew would be lifted only during the period of the most important Moslem religious holiday, the month of Ramadam which began yesterday. The present decision to lift the curfew permanently, remove all other restrictions and abolish military controls was unexpected. On the basis of prior official statements, it had been generally believed that none of these actions would be taken until a formal settlement had been concluded between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Explaining the unexpected move, Col. Moshe Ophir, military governor of Jaffa who will return to civilian life after a year’s service, said: “There is no longer any necessity for barbed wire and other restrictions. The Arabs here have proved their loyalty to the state of Israel. We are satisfied that they do not represent a threat to our security.”

The curfew was more a protective than a restrictive measure, Col. Ophir said. “With passions as high as they were during the fighting all last year,” he explained, “we felt that the curfew would offer the most effective protection for the Arabs against any unruly, undisciplined elements among the Israeli soldiers and newly-arrived, homeless immigrants.”

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