WOMEN PRESENT their passports as they ask for permits to cross from Gaza into Egypt.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Egypt is completing the first phase of a buffer zone along its border with Gaza and is going to start the second phase soon, the governor of North Sinai said this week.
Gen. Sayed Harhour, governor of the region, told Ahram Online on Wednesday that the cost of finishing the first phase of the buffer zone would reach as much as $70 million (500m. Egyptian pounds), after they pay compensation to the residents of the remaining 837 homes.
“The second phase that will begin soon along 500 more meters includes even more homes,” he said.
The government is paying property owners around $14 a meter for open land and between $98 to $168 for homes, said the report. In addition, $126 in emergency aid was being given to each evacuated family.
Egypt decided in November to double to 1 kilometer the depth of a security buffer zone it is clearing on its border with the Gaza Strip after an outbreak of some of the worst anti-state violence since president Mohamed Morsi was overthrown last year. Egypt declared a state of emergency in the border area after at least 33 security personnel were killed in two attacks in October.
“A decision was taken to increase the buffer zone along the border in Rafah to one kilometer,” the state MENA news agency said. “The decision...came after the discovery of underground tunnels with a total length of 800 to 1,000 meters.”
Meanwhile, Egyptian security forces continued ongoing operations against jihadists in Sinai, killing one suspect and arresting 11 in northern Sinai, MENA reported on Thursday.
“The Egyptian army has redoubled its efforts to hit militant groups but this fight is far from over,” Prof. Yoram Meital, chairman of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
“Groups such as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis now receive support from Islamic State, which sees in the Sinai Peninsula an attractive new arena for operations against Sisi’s regime and as a potential battleground against Israel.”
Meital also pointed out that this conflict is affected by instability in the Gaza Strip and Libya.
On Sunday, security forces killed five suspected jihadists that were allegedly affiliated with Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.
Security forces killed the suspects during a raid on a farm in the Sharqiya province where they were preparing bombs, according to an Interior Ministry statement, the Egyptian website Mada Masr reported.Reuters contributed to this report.