Egypt's 'Gush Katif': Rafiach Residents Evicted

The only way to put an end to terror in Sinai, according to an Egyptian official, is to clear out the Egyptian side of Rafiach.

Moshe Cohen,

Egyptian soldiers along the border with Gaza
Egyptian soldiers along the border with Gaza
Flash 90

The only way to put an end to terror in Sinai, according to Egyptian official Abdel Fattah Harhour, is to completely raze the Egyptian side of Rafiach.

In an interview Thursday, he said that weather conditions in recent days had slowed the rate of evacuation, but that the government must redouble its efforts to remove residents from the area – otherwise it would be impossible to destroy all the terror tunnels from Gaza into Sinai.

The Egyptian army is doing just that, with over 1,000 families to be evicted in the coming days in the interest of fighting terror.

It turns out that just as Sinai terrorists use the tunnels under Gaza to get into the Hamas-controlled area to bring in goods, Hamas terrorists use them to get into Sinai, where they carry out bombings and shootings against Egyptian police.

Just this week, four Egyptian policemen were wounded by a bomb planted at the entrance to an apartment building in the provincial capital of El-Arish. Credit for that attack, like others in recent months, was claimed by Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, the country's deadliest terrorist group which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group (ISIS).

Regardless, Egyptian officials say, many of the terrorists participating in these attacks come from Gaza – and to close off access to Sinai, a secure buffer zone with the Gaza border fence of at least five kilometers will be needed. To accomplish that, said Harhour, who is governor of northern Sinai, Egyptian Rafiach is going to have to go.

Families have been given eviction orders, and over 1,000 houses are to be destroyed in the current phase of the evacuation. Each family will be compensated 1,500 Egyptian pounds in addition to “basic” compensation.

Rafiach is a border town of 14 districts and 11 villages, with an estimated population of 75,000, according to the city’s official website. Speaking last month, Harhour said that ideally Egypt will build a “new Rafiach” behind the buffer zone line, but work on that has not begun yet.