The Israel Defense Forces will begin coordinating its routine activity around the Gaza Strip with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, as the organization signed a nature-protection accord with the commanders of the Gaza Division last week. It covers coordination of actions like ambushes and lookouts, engineering activity and the breaking of new routes.

The authority signed a general agreement with the army some years ago, but recently decided to deepen and formalize the cooperation with commanders of operational divisions. A similar accord was signed with the division operating on the border between Egypt and Israel last year. The agreement with the Gaza Division in particular focuses on the movement of armored vehicles and infantry units around the Strip, in areas that contain sand dunes, three nature reserves, a forest and tourism sites. The area is rich in flora and fauna, including endangered populations of deer and partridges.

The army commits to ensuring armored vehicles travel on authorized, existing routes, and that any engineering activity will be coordinated and confirmed with the authority. Lookouts and ambushes will be set up in confirmed locations after a tour of the terrain with INPA representatives, and care will be taken not to harm the environment.

As on the Egyptian border, operational considerations will take precedent over environmental ones in real-time operations like hot pursuit. However, the army will report unusual movements to the authority, and the debriefing after the operation will review proportionality in terms of the incident and the need to deviate from established procedures. If landscape or nature have been damaged, the division will allocate forces for repairs.