The next phase of Israeli withdrawal from Gaza involves Egypt as a major player. Egyptian police will guard the southern border. The two countries have put the finishing touches on an agreement for Cairo to deploy a 750-strong force, replacing Israeli troops.
One of the negotiators said the deal was “very detailed — down to the last pistol”.
The 1993 Oslo Accords on Palestinian autonomy left control of a thin strip of land on the Gaza-Egypt border with the Israelis: the Philadelphi Route. But smuggling thrived — through tunnels dug to Egypt.
The Israeli army says it should be out by late September.
Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres was upbeat:“I think it is an important agreement because we are going to evacuate the Philadelphi line which is 14 kilometres long and will now serve as a frontier, division between Egypt and the Palestinians.”
An official said the deal would be signed after the Israeli government and parliament approved it.
The Israelis describe Rafa in Gaza as “an underground city of weaponry,” where families ran contraband as a business.
The occupying forces typically found and destroyed tunnels which came up inside people’s homes.
Now Egypt is set to take on the police role.