Gilad (L) and Suleiman in Cairo
Photo: AP
Gazans repair bobmed tunnels
Photo: AFP
Cabinet approves measures to prevent Gaza arms smuggling
Olmert, Livni, Barak approve security arrangements with Egypt aimed at thwarting flow of arms into Hamas-controlled territory; possible measures include setting up roadblocks deep in Sinai; prevent smuggling boats from docking at Port Said

The limited cabinet, consisting of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni approved Thursday night the security arrangements with Egypt aimed at preventing the smuggling of arms into Gaza.


The technical details of these arrangements were agreed upon during recent discussions between Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, and officials in Cairo, including Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman.


Livni and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently signed a "memorandum of understanding" intended to assure that Hamas gunmen will not be able to rearm following the ceasefire in Gaza. The memorandum lays out the measures that are to be taken by the US, Egypt and other countries to this end.


During Thursday night's meeting the limited cabinet was briefed on the various measures that will be taken in Gaza and the surrounding area to prevent the flow of arms through underground tunnels along the Philadelphi route.


During the talks in Cairo the sides discussed possible ways to block the tunnels in Egyptian territory and prevent their construction along the Sinai Peninsula's coastline.


Gilad and the Egyptian officials also discussed ways to prevent smuggling boats from docking at Port Said and raised the need to set up roadblocks deep in Sinai in order to intercept trucks carrying illegal equipment to Gaza.


Residents in south Gaza said Wednesday that some smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt have begun to operate again despite heavy Israeli bombing during the three-week offensive.


Israel has threatened to respond militarily should Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, try to rearm through the tunnel network that was also used by ordinary Palestinians to bring in commercial goods and get around an Israeli blockade. 


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