Austria has decided to send experts to European Union missions in the Middle East charged with training Palestinian police forces and monitoring the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The Austrian parliament agreed late Tuesday to contribute up to six people, two border guards, two police officers and two soldiers, to the mission at Rafah. Two others, an expert in criminal law and a police officer, will help train the Palestinian police, the assembly said in a statement.
The EU agreed last month to launch the three-year police-training mission and another to monitor the Rafah border crossing. Both the Palestinians and Israelis had requested the EU presence at Rafah, aiming to keep the crossing open to cut the travel time between Gaza and Egypt. Israel closed the crossing for security reasons before withdrawing settlers and soldiers from Gaza in September, reports the AP I.L.