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Egypt rejects Israeli charge of inaction on Gaza arms smuggling

RIA Novosti

28/08/2007 16:31 CAIRO, August 28 (RIA Novosti) - Egypt criticized Tuesday comments by Israel's internal security minister, who alleged that Cairo was doing nothing to stop arms smuggling to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

"These assertions... are an attempt to shift the responsibility for arms smuggling in Gaza to the Egyptian government," an Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Israeli Internal Security Minister Avraham Dichter said on Monday that Egypt was turning a blind eye to illegal arms supplies in Gaza, and that over the past seven years, Egypt had done nothing to stop arms smuggling.

Israel, which controls the Rafah checkpoint on the short border between Egypt and Gaza, closed the crossing on June 9 shortly before Islamist group Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip, over fears that weapons were continuing to reach militants across the Egyptian border.

The Israeli minister said Egyptians want Hamas to be strong, so they are not cutting off the supply of weapons.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry said such comments are designed to downplay Cairo's role in the region. The statement said Israel remains "an occupation force in Gaza," continuing aggressive operations against the enclave's residents.


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