Israel, Egypt to Step Up Cooperation on Gaza Arms Smuggling

SHARM AL-SHEIKH, Egypt − Israel and Egypt agreed yesterday to intensify intelligence and security cooperation aimed at combating smuggling from Sinai into the Gaza Strip.

At a meeting in this Red Sea resort yesterday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak devoted considerable time to this issue, which has put stress on Israeli-Egyptian relations in the past several months.

Olmert reiterated the Israeli position that Egypt is not doing enough to stop the smuggling and the infiltration into Gaza of terror experts from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Mubarak said Egypt is making great efforts on this issue and has located and destroyed 136 tunnels used for smuggling in the past year.

Both sides agreed to step up the activity of the joint security committee, hold weekly meetings and pass on relevant intelligence information immediately, using a hotline.

At a press conference after the meeting, Olmert said: "Israel will act with all its might to prevent the entry of Hamas terrorists into Gaza."

Mubarak said that Egypt has "no interest in the smuggling," noting that such smuggling could also go in the opposite direction, into Egypt.