Police force deployed to Egypt-Gaza border
Nearly 5,000 state security police were deployed in the vicinity of the Egypt-Gaza border to “secure the tunnels allegedly used to smuggle weapons to and from the Palestinian territories once and for all, a military analyst said.
Dr. Mohammed Kadry Saeed, military expert at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, was commenting on recent reports that Egypt had moved police forces to the border area on Saturday.
“The current Egyptian redeployment is an effort to secure the tunnels . and prove to Israel that the smuggling going on in the border tunnels is not occurring with its tacit approval, Saeed told The Daily Star Egypt.
“Egypt wants to show that it is active and not turning a blind eye, he added.
The deployment comes amid speculation raised by an Israeli daily that Israel was planning to use “smart bombs to destroy the tunnels along the border.
The border strip, known as the Philadelphi Corridor, is an 11 km. stretch that is only 100 m. wide.
The plan [as it was presented] includes detailed reference to the proximity to the Egyptian border and the surrounding civilian population, the daily Maariv said.
An Israeli army spokesman declined to comment on the report, saying that private discussions of the army chief of staff could not be disclosed.
Another source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said there is an agreement between the Egyptian and Israeli governments to ensure that the tunnels are not used to deliver weapons from Egypt to Israel.
To date, according to the source, who did not wish to be identified, Israel has closed about 20 tunnels. However, he denied the use of smart bombs to destroy the tunnels.
Saeed, however, said any Israeli move in the area would come after consulting Egypt.
“Israel will not do anything without sorting it out with Egypt first.
Recent pressure from Israel prompted Egypt to deploy 750 border patrol soldiers on the Philadelphi Corridor according to Saeed. Egyptian military personnel are prohibited from entering that area by the 1979 Camp David Accords.
Saeed stated that the deployment was coordinated with Israel, which would explain why the 5,000 strong force currently deployed is from the Egyptian State Security police.
[This current deployment] is done in cooperation with Israel, Saeed told The Daily Star Egypt, as there is a joint Egyptian-Israeli committee to handle border issues.