Egypt begins expanding Gaza buffer zone

Egypt begins to pave path for expansion of buffer zone, doubling its depth from 500 meters to 1 kilometer.

An Egyptian soldier keeps guard on the border between Egypt and southern Gaza Strip (photo credit: REUTERS)
An Egyptian soldier keeps guard on the border between Egypt and southern Gaza Strip
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Egypt started expanding its buffer zone with the Gaza Strip on Sunday, preparing for the evacuation and destruction of at least 1,200 houses, according to an Egyptian security source.
The buffer zone is set to be doubled from 500 m. to 1 km., according to the source quoted by the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency. The owners of the homes will be reimbursed, the source added.
Gen. Sayed Harhour, the governor of the region, was quoted as saying that “the government will provide vehicles for free to move furniture for families to move anywhere they want.”
Last month, Harhour told Ahram Online that the cost of finishing the first phase of the buffer zone – reaching 500 meters – would cost as much as $70 million, which include compensation for the residents.
Egypt decided in November to double the width of a security buffer zone it’s clearing on its border with Gaza 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.
Meanwhile, an Egyptian soldier was killed and three other security officials injured on Sunday while trying to dismantle an explosive device in north Sinai, an army spokesman was quoted as saying by the Aswat Masriya website.
The army killed five suspected terrorists and arrested 10 suspects as part of ongoing operations against terrorists in Sinai, the state MENA news agency reported on Sunday morning.
On Friday, terrorists shot a rocket-propelled grenade at a checkpoint near Rafah, causing no injuries, Ahram Online reported.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Tags egypt gaza