President Hosni Mubarak’s statement denying that 5,000 Egyptian police had been deployed near the border with Gaza has further raised confusion concerning the security situation there.
“There is no truth to these reports, he told his ruling National Democratic Party members of parliament yesterday.
His statements contradicted earlier Egyptian news reports that had said that 5,000 police and security forces had deployed near the Philadelphi Corridor, an 11 km. stretch that is only 100 m. wide.
Mohammed Kadry Saeed, military expert at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, had said that the movement of security forces to the area was to “. secure the tunnels allegedly used to smuggle weapons to and from the Palestinian territories once and for all.
The move had reportedly come a day after the Israeli daily Maariv reported that Israel would launch airstrikes to destroy the tunnels.
Dr. Abdel-Aleem Mohammed, head of Israeli studies at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies told The Daily Star Egypt that there is no clarity or transparency from the Egyptian side concerning the border issue. Sometimes words replace actions and this is a sign of the regression of Egypt s role in the region, whether towards Israel or the Arab world.
Regarding the question of the president s referral to the forces as troops rather than police forces, Mohammed told The Daily Star Egypt that the statement referred to security, which wasn t an indicator of either military or police forces and that the peace accords restricted the type and amount of forces that could be present in the area.
Mohammed added that Israel is also in a constant mode of flux concerning their responses to events in Gaza.
Meanwhile, Hassan Abu Taleb, head of the international unit at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told The Daily Star Egypt that “Egypt has the right to send the 5,000-strong police force to protect its side of the border, and this is in accordance with the peace treaty.
When asked whether this could lead to tension on the border, he responded, “It is true that there is tension on the border, but it is not tension between Egypt vis-à-vis Israel or vice-versa. Egypt recognizes the tunnel problems because it affects Egypt as well as Israel.
Abu Taleb also said that Israel is making a grave mistake in considering military operations in Gaza because operations have proven to end in failure, as seen by the recent war in Lebanon.
“It is only through diplomatic means that this matter can be resolved, he said.