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Egypt stops building steel wall along Gaza

April 11, 2011 at 7:08 AM

CAIRO, April 11 (UPI) -- Egypt halted construction of an underground steel wall designed to stop weapons smuggling along its border with Gaza, Israeli defense officials said.

Construction of the 6.2-mile barrier was suspended after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in February, officials told The Jerusalem Post

Israel has told the new Egyptian government it should uphold the position of the previous government in preventing the flow of arms into the Gaza Strip, the newspaper reported.

Some Israeli officials said halting the construction was not coincidental. They said Egypt has been trying to strengthen ties with Hamas and cited a recent visit by Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar to Cairo, where he met with Egyptian politicians as well as intelligence and military officials, as evidence of the improving relationship.

"There is a new relationship between Hamas and Cairo today. This is likely connected to the upcoming elections and the understanding in Egypt that the Muslim Brotherhood is a strong player and as a result it is important to maintain contacts with Hamas," one official told The Post.

Egypt began building the wall in 2009.

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