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Gaza Disengagement Plan: Egypt Agrees To Police Philadelphi Route After Israeli Disengagement

(August 2, 2005)

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak reached a preliminary agreement in March 2005 for Egypt to provide security along the “Philadelphi Route” (the border area separating Egypt and the Gaza Strip) after Israel withdraws for the area.

Egypt has offered to deploy 750 national guards along its border with the Gaza Strip to help maintain security after Israel withdraws its military and settlements as part of the disengagement plan scheduled to take place in the summer of 2005. Mubarak insisted, however, that he would act only after Israel removes its troops from the buffer zone, which has been a scene of the most intense Israeli-Palestinian fighting over the past four years.

Israel has said it will eventually leave the zone - but not immediately - owing to the ongoing weapons smuggling by Palestinians through tunnels across the border.

In August, the two countries reached a new agreement whereby the Egyptian troops will take up positions along the 14-kilometer southern border of the Gaza Strip, from the Mediterranean to the border with Israel, near Kerem Shalom. The Egyptians reportedly will deploy in September, and Israel will withdraw from the Philadelphi route in October. To avoid conflicts with the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, the Egyptian forces are not to bring tanks or anti-tank weapons, or construct permanent military infrastructure. Its soldiers will carry light arms only, and be outfitted with observation equipment and armored vehicles suitable for police.

Sources: Jerusalem Post, (March 10, 2005); Haaretz, (August 2, 2005)