Egypt starts work on expanding Gaza buffer zone
Authorities have prepared a list of 1,200 houses located in the area to be evacuated and demolished.
Owners of the houses will be reimbursed, the source said.
Abd al-Fattah Harhour, the governor of the North Sinai district, said in a statement that “the government will provide vehicles for free to move furniture for families to move anywhere they want.”
He said each family would receive 1,500 Egyptian pounds ($209) to rent apartments for three months.
After that, each home owner will receive 1,200 pounds ($167) for each square meter of cement and 700 pounds ($97) per square meter of the house based on the bearing wall system, Harhour said.
Work on the buffer zone on the Egyptian side began in Feb. 2014, but was at the time slated to extend only about 300 meters in urban areas and 500 in rural areas.
After a bombing killed more than 30 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai in October, however, the military stepped up the campaign to build the buffer zone amid accusations of Hamas support for the group that carried out the attack, which Hamas has strenuously denied.
Both sides of the border are densely populated as the city of Rafah originally extended in both directions, a growth that was the result of the Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula for more than a decade following the 1967 war.
In the early 2000s Israeli authorities demolished thousands of homes in Palestinian Rafah in order to create a 300-meter buffer zone on the Egypt border, but after the pull-out in 2005, many moved back into the area.
The Egyptian government, which has actively destroyed smuggling tunnels underneath the border and directly targeted Hamas since a military coup in summer 2013, has now promised to uproot as many as possible to ensure the creation of a buffer zone on its side.
The border area used to be host to hundreds of tunnels which Gazans used to import goods to get around the seven-year-old Israeli siege of the territory.
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