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Last Updated: Monday, 1 August 2005, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Israel and Egypt agree Gaza deal
Israeli soldiers patrolling the Philadelphi route
The stretch of road along the Egypt-Gaza border is heavily patrolled
Egypt has agreed to police the international border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt after Israel withdraws from the territory.

Some 750 Egyptian troops will patrol the border, allowing Israel to pull soldiers out of the area, scene of frequent clashes with militants.

Negotiations over security along the border have been going on for months.

Israel is pressing ahead with the withdrawal of more than 8,000 settlers from Gaza starting in mid-August.

Areas along the Gaza-Israel border have been the focus of fierce fighting throughout almost five years of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel has launched numerous operations along the border, close to the town of Rafah, in an attempt to stop Palestinian militants using some of the tunnels to smuggle weapons from Egypt.

Israel has insisted for months that Egypt boosts its security presence at the border, along the so-called "Philadelphi route" buffer zone that divides Gaza from Egypt.

The area is currently heavily policed by Israeli troops.

Security concern

"An agreement has been reached which has resolved all the main obstacles and opened the way for the formulation of a full military protocol," an Israeli defence official told the Reuters news agency.

Palestinian Authority security forces are due to take responsibility for internal security in Gaza, but face challenges from militant groups such as Hamas.

A recent independent assessment said the Palestinian forces were weak, divided and outgunned by militant groups.

Official Palestinian Authority troops recently clashed with Hamas militants in Gaza in what was described as the worst Palestinian in-fighting for years.

Israel will maintain control over Gaza's borders, coastline and airspace after the pullout, and could respond if Palestinian forces fail to stop attacks against nearby Israeli towns and villages.


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