Egypt demolishes ‘hundreds of more homes’ to expand Gaza buffer zone

The Gaza Post | The News of Palestine – Egypt 

At least 140 houses and more than 200 acres of land adjacent to its border with Gaza Strip were obliterated by Egyptian Army this week to expand the buffer zone with the besieged coastal enclave.

Egypt has arbitrarily destroyed thousands of homes since 2013 to create the buffer zone, claiming it is necessary to prevent the flow of weapons and militants from Gaza.

Nearly 4,000 people have been forcibly evicted as part of the demolitions, which Human Rights Watch says may amount to a violation of international law.

The governor of the Northern Sinai province Major General Abdel-Fatah Harhour told The Associated Press late on Monday that the military began a new phase in clearing the zone, which is 1,500 metres wide and 10 kilometres long.

The government has promised to compensate those who lost their homes and farms, Harhour said, with residents set to receive 3,000 Egyptian pounds (nearly $170) each to pay for “alternative accommodation.”

A local tribal leader Sheikh Issa Karafin said, however, that some of the displaced have yet to receive the money.

Karafin says he has helped over two dozen evicted families find places to live in Ismailia over the past two weeks after the military ordered them to evacuate their homes in August.

One resident said he and his family live in a desert area, “in huts with no electricity or water.” He spoke to the APon condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from authorities.

Egypt has long accused Hamas of fuelling unrest in North Sinai, where its army has been battling extremists since the toppling of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi after a year in office in 2013.

Both Egypt and Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas ousted forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007 in bloody street battles.

Palestinians have been split between the rival groups since then, with Hamas ruling Gaza and Abbas governing parts of the West Bank.

Source: The New Arab

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