Egypt explodes Gaza homes in Rafah
Egypt explodes Gaza homes in RafahAbed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Residents in Gaza's south, and particularly the Sinai border town of Rafah, are being expelled from their homes and having them demolished by dynamite and bulldozers - an expulsion world media has largely shied away from because it is being conducted by the Egyptian army.

The Egyptian expulsion to create a buffer zone follows lethal terrorist attacks on Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai last month, and the ensuing crackdown on smuggling tunnels from Gaza by which Hamas reportedly armed the attackers has already seen hundreds of homes destroyed.

"We are not psychologically ready for this," 22-year-old university study Ahmed al-Afifi of Rafah told Al Jazeera. His home is 400 meters from the border, meaning it is slated for demolition.

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. On Tuesday, it doubled that depth to 1 kilometer (0.62 miles).

Al-Afifi told the news site that the explosions of the demolition are greater than those heard in the IDF's Operation Protective Edge to counter Hamas's terror war, because the Egyptian explosions "are unexpected."

The expulsion and destruction has also brought a heavy toll on the local economy, with Salah al-Manyarawi who works in Rafah's al-Zahraa cosmetic shop complaining "people stopped buying our products."

Talya, a 29-year-old Palestinian Arab living in Cairo, told the paper she came to visit Gaza with her three-year-old daughter and mother for a short family visit, but has been left stranded after Egypt closed the Rafah border crossing.

"Rafah has turned into a ghost town," said Talya, who has family on both the Egyptian and formerly Gazan side of Rafah.

"Most of my friends' houses are being destroyed now by the army. I know a lot of people in Sinai, and I have memories there," Talya said. "It breaks my heart to see what's happening there."

In sharp contrast to the international condemnation showered upon Israel during the operation in Gaza, Egypt's expulsion has gone by practically without any criticism.

Robert Turner, head of UNRWA operations in Gaza, made do with a light statement on Monday, saying "Gaza residents will feel that this adds a psychological burden and will only make things more difficult for them." UNRWA's facilities were lethally used against IDF forces in Hamas's recent terror war.