Egypt to expand Gaza buffer zone

Published January 4th, 2015 - 07:34 GMT

Egypt was set to begin exanding its buffer zone with Gaza on Sunday, preparing for the evacuation and destruction of at least 1200 houses, according to an Egyptian security source.

The buffer zone would be doubled from 500 meters to one kilometer, according to the source quoted by the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency. The owners of the homes will be reimbursed, added the source.

According to the report, Gen. Sayed Harhour, governor of the region, said 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 (500m. Egyptian pounds), after they pay compensation to the residents of the remaining 837 homes.

Egypt decided in November to double the depth of its security buffer zone on its Gazan border to 1 kilometer, 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 northern Sinai, the Aswat Masriya website reported.

The army killed five suspected militants and arrested 10 suspects as part of ongoing operations against terrorists in Sinai, security sources said, the state MENA news agency reported on Sunday morning.

On Friday, militants shot an RPG at a checkpoint near Rafah, causing no injuries, Ahram Online reported.

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