Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Egypt creating buffer zone along border with Gaza

October 26, 2014
Egyptian border seen from Rafah.

Egyptian authorities are set to create a buffer zone along the shared border with Gaza following an attack that killed 30 soldiers on Saturday. Egyptian military sources told Ma'an that all houses and farmland 500 meters deep along the 13-kilometer (eight-mile) border will be evacuated, with the exception of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid.
AP reported that the buffer zone, which will include water-filled trenches to thwart tunnel diggers, will be 500 meters wide and extended along the 13 kilometer border. Army officers spoke to the affected residents in person and initially gave them a 48-hour ultimatum to l eave, but put that on hold after they protested, officials said. Residents groups are now negotiating with local officials to see if they can extend the deadline.
Ma'an says that the decision was taken by the Egyptian Defense Council and all work will likely be completed by the end of 2014.
Following a survey with residents along the border, house owners will receive compensation in return for leaving their homes, with some 200 families having already accepted the financial package to leave.
Around 680 more families live along the border.
The decision comes after a suicide car bombing which killed 30 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai, the deadliest attack on the military since the coup.
Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the bomber had "external support."
Egypt also immediately closed the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip following the attack, the principal connection between Gaza's 1.7 million people and the outside world.

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