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Egypt doubles Gaza border garrison

Egypt has doubled the number of troops it has stationed on its border with the Gaza Strip.

Since Hamas blew open the Gaza-Egypt border wall last month to allow hundreds of thousands of needy Palestinians to surge across for supplies, Cairo has been sending reinforcements to the frontier with Israel’s tacit assent, Jerusalem sources said Wednesday.

Under the 1979 Camp David peace accord between Israel and Egypt, the Sinai was demilitarized and Egypt was allowed a limited garrison of 750 soldiers to prevent arms smuggling and terrorist infiltrations across Gaza’s southern border.

But recent weeks have seen some 750 troops added, and Israel, rather than formally request that the relevant clause in the Camp David accord be revised, decided not to protest against the reinforcements, viewing them as temporary.

According to Cairo sources, some of the soldiers are in civilian dress to avoid drawing attention.

Israel’s right-wing political opposition has noted the new deployment and accused the Olmert government of undermining the delicate entente between Jerusalem and Cairo. Many Israeli experts suspect Egypt wants to reassert its military presence in the Sinai, perhaps ahead of a future confrontation with the Jewish state.

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