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Egypt Deploys Troops on Gaza Border Under Deal with Israel


Egypt is moving troops to the border with the Gaza Strip, under a security agreement with Israel. It marks the final stage of Israel's Gaza pullout.

The first of 750 Egyptian troops have deployed on the Gaza border - part of a security deal with Israel aimed at preventing weapons smuggling to Palestinian militants. The Egyptians will replace Israeli troops, who frequently clashed with Palestinian gunmen in the volatile "Philadelphia" Corridor. The agreement clears the way for Israel to end its 38-year occupation of Gaza. The last Israeli soldiers are due to withdraw on Tuesday.

But Israeli hawks fear Gaza will be flooded with weapons that will threaten the security of the Jewish state. Parliamentarian Uzi Landau says the Egyptians have turned a blind eye to weapons smuggling that has fueled the Palestinian uprising.

"I don't trust them, I just don't trust them," he said.

But Zvi Mazel, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, says the Egyptians have learned about the threat of terror the hard way.

"If they thought that the smuggling of weapons will be only one-way direction to Israel, they are thoroughly mistaken, completely mistaken," he said.

Terrorists have carried out several bombings at resorts on the Red Sea coast, including one in Sharm el-Sheik in July that killed more than 90 people. Mr. Mazel says Egypt now realizes that a crack down on weapons smuggling is in its own interest.

"So, they understand that they have very important role to play," he said.

Israeli officials describe the deal with Egypt as a gamble worth taking. They say that following the army's withdrawal to the international border, Palestinians in Gaza will have no excuse for continuing attacks against Israel.

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