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Egyptian Troops to Deploy on Gaza Border this Week


Egyptian forces will begin deploying on the Gaza border this week, under a security agreement with Israel. But opponents are charging that the deal will harm Israel's security.

Seven-hundred-fifty Egyptian troops will deploy on the Gaza border, with the aim of preventing weapons smuggling to Palestinian militants.

They will be stationed along the volatile "Philadelphia" Corridor, the scene of frequent clashes between Israeli troops and armed Palestinians during the past four-and-a-half years of conflict. The deal will enable Israel to pull all its troops out of Gaza, and withdraw to the international border.

But Israeli hawks say Egypt has turned a blind eye to Palestinian weapons smuggling. Yuval Steinitz, who heads parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, says Egypt cannot be trusted. "We cannot ignore the fact that Egypt is the only country in the Middle East that prepares itself for a possible conflagration or war with Israel. And we should preserve our national security interests," he said.

Israeli analyst Hirsch Goodman disagrees. He believes Egypt will deliver the goods. "Instead of having a few imminently bribable policemen on their side of the border, they have now got 750 quality troops; and the reason for that is they have a great interest in Gaza not being an export of terror into the Sinai," he said.

The beautiful Sinai beaches on the Red Sea are a hub for the lucrative Egyptian tourist industry, and Egypt wants to prevent a repeat of the terrorist bombing at the resort of Sharm el Sheikh in July that killed more than 90 people.

So Israel and Egypt have a mutual interest in keeping the border quiet. But Israeli opponents fear that Gaza will be flooded with weapons and become a terrorist enclave committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.

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