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Israeli would-be gamblers will be left bereft of a venue after the police ordered Israel's Internet service providers to block access to overseas gambling websites. Gambling is illegal in Israel, explain the police.

This is the first time Israeli ISPs have been ordered to block sites.

Israel Police representatives visited every Israeli ISP over the past few days to personally deliver the directive.

The police handed the providers a list of overseas gambling sites and their IP (Internet protocol) addresses to be blocked. According to the police order, the sites "provide a place for illegal gaming for lotteries or gambling, as defined in Section 224 of the Penal Code."

"It is my intention to order your company not to provide users with access to these sites," states the police order, which is signed by Central District commander Maj. Gen. Bentzi Sau.

The list of banned sites includes such well-known names as Victor Chandler. Many of them are directed specifically at the Israeli public and some are even in Hebrew, though most addresses end with the extension "com" (as opposed to "co.il").

Internet service providers argue that the order doesn't make sense. Any block on specific IP addresses can easily be circumvented by the websites, by the simple means of creating new websites, they explain.

In addition, the ISPs say, whatever the police may say in the order, the police does not have the legal authority to block sites.

The police asked the providers to respond within 48 hours of receiving the order. A number of ISPs have asked for a one-week extension to study the legal and technological implications of the issue at stake.

The police commented that the order stands, and added that they have no intention of changing their decision after receiving responses from the ISPs.