Details Emerge on Egypt's Gaza 'Expulsion Plan'

Details emerge of buffer zone with Gaza, including relocation of residents from border; Sisi justifies as 'war of existence' after attacks.

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Ari Yashar,

Hamas guard with Egyptian border post
Hamas guard with Egyptian border post
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

No international outrage has been forthcoming over the expulsion of Gaza residents from their homes in Egypt's buffer zone plan, which follows a lethal terror attack last Friday that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers.

Egyptian military sources revealed details on the plan to the Palestinian Arab Ma'an News Agency on Tuesday, divulging that all homes and farmland up to a depth of 500 meters (over 1,640 feet) into Gaza from the Sinai border will be seized and evacuated, other than Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid.

The expulsion will take place to that depth all along the 13 kilometer (over eight mile) border. Additionally, a channel with a depth and width of 20 meters (over 65 feet) will be dug along the Gaza border.

The military source added that residents faced with evacuation are being offered compensation for abandoning their homes, and around 200 families have already accepted the financial package to vacate.

There are still 680 more families in the area faced with impending expulsion.

Egypt's buffer zone plans are expected to be completed by the end of the year, and as noted come in response to two deadly attacks in El-Arish last Friday, consisting of a suicide bombing on a checkpoint and a shooting attack inside the city of El-Arish.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday said the attacks are "meant to break up Egypt and the Egyptians...Egypt is fighting a war of existence."

He added that he suspected "outside forces" assisted the attacks, and declared three days of national mourning, as well as a state of emergency in the Sinai peninsula.

A simmering Islamist insurgency escalated following the ouster of Egypt's first Islamist president Mohammed Morsi just over a year ago. Since then attacks by jihadi groups have become more regular and deadlier. Egypt has responded by flooding the Sinai Peninsula with troops in an attempt to root-out the terrorists.

Despite the fact that the deployment of troops to the region was coordinated with Israel, concerns remain that the Egyptian disarmament of the peninsula in its peace agreement with Israel may be in danger of collapsing altogether.