Israeli agency head accuses Egypt of turning blind eye over Gaza border

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JERUSALEM: The head of Israel s Shin Beth security agency accused Egypt on Wednesday of failing to stop arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip and called on the Egyptians to take more effective action. Something must be done on this issue vis-a-vis the Egyptians … What they are doing is not even a drop in the ocean compared to the extent of the smuggling, Yuval Diskin was quoted by an official as telling the cabinet. The security chief charged that since August 2005, 20 tons of high-grade explosives and weapons, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft rockets, have been smuggled into the Palestinian territory from Egypt. The Rafah border crossing is Gaza s sole gateway to the outside world that bypasses Israel. It began operating last November after an Israeli pullout two months earlier that ended a 38-year occupation. Diskin said the agreement covering that needs to be reviewed and called on the Egyptians to work more effectively. We must demand from the Egyptians, who have placed more border police forces there, to take more effective action, he said. The crossing does not operate as it should. Terrorists, money and weapons go through it.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, presiding over the cabinet meeting, sought to play down Diskin s comments, saying only that the agreement on the border must be reviewed. There is great appreciation for what the Egyptians are doing. Things must be seen in the right balance … but we should not come out in statements that could hamper what the Egyptians would do in the future, he cautioned. The Israeli-Palestinian agreement, brokered by the United States, allows EU monitors to deploy at the post. The first stage of the agreement expires in November and the EU mandate expires in May.

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