JERUSALEM, AP – Israel and Egypt have reached an agreement to have 750 Egyptian troops take control of a volatile Egypt-Gaza border area from Israeli forces, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Wednesday.
The transfer of border supervision to the Egyptians is key to ending Israel”s 38-year occupation of the Gaza Strip. An agreement had been held up by Israeli concerns that weapons and explosives would be smuggled across the border from Egypt”s Sinai Peninsula into Gaza once its troops leave as part of the Gaza evacuation.
Under the new agreement, Egyptian troops will be responsible for the security tasks Israeli soldiers used to conduct on the Gaza side of the border.
"This agreement ultimately gives comprehensive — and I emphasize comprehensive — responsibility to the Egyptians regarding the prevention of weapons smuggling in the Philadelphi corridor in tunnels and above ground, into the Gaza Strip," Mofaz told Army Radio.
It wasn”t immediately clear what responsibilities Palestinian troops on the Gaza side of the border would have. Palestinian forces have been working with Israeli troops along the border since a cease-fire between Israel and militant groups was reached earlier this year.
Israel completed the evacuation of all 21 civilian settlements in Gaza on Monday.