Egypt Set to Begin Doubling Gaza Buffer Zone

Work to begin next week to double the width of a buffer zone being built along Egypt's border with Gaza to prevent terrorist infiltration.

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Egypt destroys Gaza home for buffer zone
Egypt destroys Gaza home for buffer zone
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Egypt said Tuesday that work will begin next week to double the width of a buffer zone being built along the border with Gaza to prevent terrorists infiltrating into Egypt from the region, AFP reported.

A 500-meter wide buffer zone is now being built along some 10 kilometers of the border, with some 800 homes being demolished in the process.

Work will begin next week to expand it by another 500 meters, North Sinai provincial Governor Abdel Fattah Harhur said.

Harhur told AFP he had met families from the area to be evacuated and told them they needed to inform authorities of the border city of Rafiah whether they want financial compensation or alternative housing.

The decision on the buffer zone was made following two deadly attacks in October in El-Arish, which killed dozens of soldiers and were claimed by Egypt’s deadliest terrorist group, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.

Egyptian sources have revealed that Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the lethal attacks in El-Arish through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai, thus making the buffer zone necessary.

As part of the buffer zone plan, the Egyptian military is seizing and evacuating homes belonging to Gazans.

Egypt initially said it would wipe out all homes to a depth of 500 meters (over 1,640 feet) all along the 13 kilometer (over eight mile) border. Later it doubled that depth to 1 kilometer (0.62 miles).

The international community has been silent thus far about the buffer zone and the expulsions that have resulted from it. One exception is Amnesty International, which condemned Egypt's demolition of hundreds of homes and called for a halt to its "unlawful evictions" of residents.