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Israel raises concerns with post-Mubarak Egypt over increased coordination with Hamas

CAIRO — Egypt has suspended the construction of an underground steel barrier along the border of the Gaza Strip.


Israel has raised the suspension of the barrier project with Egypt, security sources said.

The sources said Israel expressed concern over an increase in Hamas smuggling as well as consultation between Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar and Egyptian military officials over the last six months.

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The Egyptian Interior Ministry ended construction of the 10-kilometer steel barrier in February, the sources said. They cited the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the reduction of security forces in the Sinai Peninsula.

"There is a restructuring of the entire ministry and a review of all projects," a security source said.

The sources said the suspension of construction came during the last stage of the project. They said the project could be renewed by 2012.

The border security project began in 2009 and was meant to install a steel barrier to a depth of 20 meters. The barrier, however, was said to have been penetrated by Palestinian smugglers in cooperation with the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.

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