Second police group arrives

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The Independent Online
RAFAH (AFP) - A contingent of 145 Palestinian policemen arrived yesterday on the Egyptian side of Rafah, ready to cross into the Gaza Strip, an Israeli military spokesman said. The troops have to fill in entry forms before being allowed through with their arms and luggage.

A first group of 160 policemen that deployed in Deir el Balah in the early hours of yesterday were let in after undergoing nine hours of strict processing at the border. They entered triumphantly into the Gaza Strip and were given a big welcome.

The Palestinian police commander, Nasr Yussef, said the police would be put up at former Israeli barracks in the Bereij refugee camp. He said the PLO and other organisations, namely Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, would have to make a concerted effort to confront 'the possession of arms by individuals'.

The armed wings of both organisations signed a truce in April to end internecine strife. Hamas had clashed with the PLO's mainstream faction, Fatah, for accepting certain concessions in its peace accord with Israel.

Under the autonomy agreement signed on 4 May, 9,000 policemen will be deployed in Gaza and Jericho, of which 7,000 will come from the Palestine Liberation Army bases in Arab countries.

The Israeli Environment Minister, Yossi Sarid, confirmed yesterday that Palestinians would be in control of Gaza and Jericho within a week.