Thursday, October 30, 2014

Egypt begins Gaza border evacuation to create security buffer - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The Egyptian army on Wednesday began work to establish a buffer zone along the border with the Gaza Strip following last week’s terror attack that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai.

Egyptian media outlets and military officials have accused the terrorists, whose identity remains unknown, of being linked to radical elements inside the Gaza Strip. Some Egyptians have even suggested that the terrorists may have come to Sinai through smuggling tunnels along the border with the Gaza Strip.

The 10-kilometer long buffer zone is 500 meters wide, Egyptian security officials said. They said that the buffer zone is part of a massive crackdown ordered by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi in the aftermath of the Sinai terror attack.

The buffer zone will require the Egyptian authorities to evict 1,100 families from their homes.

Sources in Sinai said that dozens of families began leaving their homes already on Tuesday night after being warned by the Egyptian army. They added that among those evicted are Palestinian and Bedouin families.

Also Wednesday, the Egyptian army demolished a number of houses close to the border with the Gaza Strip.

An Egyptian security official said that the authorities have offered to compensate the families who lost their homes with 1,200 Egyptian Pounds ($160) per meter. He said that altogether, some 680 houses will be demolished in pave the way for the creation of the security zone.

Hamas, meanwhile, expressed deep concern over the building of the buffer zone, saying it would tighten the blockade on the Gaza Strip. Hamas officials have strongly denied any connection to the Sinai attack.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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