JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday proposed stationing international forces along the Gaza Strip’s volatile border with Egypt to prevent arms from reaching Palestinian militants.The world “should seriously consider bringing international forces, like UNIFIL, into the area of the Philadelphi corridor in order to stop the arming of the extremist forces,” he said, according to a statement issued by his office.
UNIFIL is the international force stationed in southern Lebanon charged with enforcing a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.
Olmert made the proposal during a meeting with the visiting Dutch foreign minister, his office said. Olmert expressed concern about the Palestinian infighting in Gaza, as well as the rampant weapons smuggling along the Egyptian border.
Israeli officials have repeatedly warned that the Hamas militant group, which has fired dozens of crude rockets into Israel in recent weeks, is building up its arsenal in anticipation of a confrontation with Israel.
“The situation in Gaza bothers and concerns us especially concerning the ability of the pragmatic forces in the Palestinian Authority to confront the actions that the extremist forces are taking,” he said.
Olmert said he feared a Hamas victory, but ruled out Israeli support for the moderate Fatah forces.
“If the Gaza Strip falls into Hamas hands this will have regional implications,” Olmert said. “Israel condemns this and will defend itself and its citizens against all attacks of terror groups as necessary. We can’t go into the Gaza Strip in order to fight for the Palestinian pragmatic forces facing the extremist forces.”