After clashes that left one killed and 20 injured, Egypt asks for more troops on the Gaza borders

February 5, 2008 10:55 PM Ghassan Bannoura Gaza Strip, Human rights, News Report 0

Egyptian and Israeli sources reported on Tuesday that Cairo asked Israel to allow more Egyptian troops on the Gaza Egypt borders. The Egyptian government said that the additional troops are to secure the areas between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.Palestinian resistance groups and civilians destroyed parts of the border wall between Gaza and Egypt two weeks ago after Israel decided to step up its siege imposed on the Palestinian coastal region since June 2007. The Israeli siege left Gazans lacking fuel water electricity and food supplies.

According to the 1979 peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, Cairo must take the approval of Israeli first before increasing the troop’s number on the borders with Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

The Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, welcomed the Egyptian demand to double the number of troops that are stationed along its borders with Israel and Gaza. Livni said that she will present her recommendations to the Israeli Prime Minister Ehod Olmert during the meeting between the two about this issue that will take place on Wednesday.

On Monday clashes broke out between the Egyptian troops that are closing the border breeches, made by the Palestinians two weeks ago, and Palestinian civilians who are trying to cross the borders into Egypt for supplies. The clashes that lasted several hours left one Palestinian man dead and 10 other Palestinians injured, while Egypt said that 20 soldiers were lightly injured in the clashes.

On Tuesday Egyptian sources stated that Egypt is willing to operate the Rafah crossing on the basis of the 2005 deal. The Rafah crossing, located on the Gaza-Egypt borders is the only way for Palestinians to get in or out of the coastal region, in 2005 the crossing was handed by Israel to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. According to the 2005 agreement, Abbas forces along with Egyptians troops run the crossing with EU monitors present at the borders. In June 2007 when Hamas took total control of Gaza and pushed Abbas Fatah party out of the coastal region, the Rafah crossing was closed.

Hamas announced last week during meetings with Egyptian officials in Cairo that the movement will only accept the re-opening of the crossing under Palestinian Egyptian control only. The movement also demanded a roll in running the Rafah crossing.

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Ghassan Bannoura

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