Egyptian guards have begun to patrol the southern border of Gaza. It is a key sign that Israel’s pullout from the territory is now almost complete. In a deal struck between the two nations, some 750 Egyptian troops will be deployed along the Gaza-Egypt border – a frequent flashpoint of Middle East violence. The Israeli soldiers who have been posted here are on the point of heading home.
Military sources say their withdrawal should start on Sunday and be over in 24 hours. Hence Egyptian forces presence on what is known as the “Philadelphi route” buffer zone, where they are in charge of preventing arms-smuggling to Palestinian militants. The Israeli army is blowing up its last military posts in Gaza, destroying security offices, bunkers and watchtowers after a 38-year occupation. It comes hot on the heels of the evacuation of 8,500 Jewish settlers last month, under Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s “disengagement” plan from the Palestinians. A special farewell ceremony is planned tomorrow evening before Israeli forces finally withdraw.