CAIRO: Residents in Rafah and on the border with Gaza are to be compensated by the government for damage incurred while putting in place a new US surveillance system aimed at detecting tunnels.
Due to the introduction of the new surveillance system, which included the insertion of underground cameras and radar scanners along the 13 kilometers of the shared border, a large number of trees were uprooted.
Egyptian authorities are currently scoping the area to record the extent of the damage and compensate the residents to the tune of LE 150 per uprooted tree.
The reason compensation is being given for uprooted foliage as opposed to property damage is because of the lack of ownership of actual property for residents in Northern Sinai.
“Compensation is given for the trees and not homes because there is no ownership of land in the area so the compensation is being given for something the residents planted, not something they actually own, journalist and activist Mustapha Singer told Daily News Egypt.
A large number of trees were uprooted in the process of installing the new surveillance system, and according to Singer this happened once before when the pumping station used for transporting natural gas to Israel was built in the village of Shalaa.
The price for damages incurred then was also LE 150 for every uprooted tree.
Last July, an American military delegation visited the Rafah border crossing to observe security measures aimed at preventing smuggling across the border.
According to Masrawy web portal, the delegation included the military attaché of the US Embassy in Cairo as well as a diplomatic delegation from the US.
They were received by an Egyptian security delegation in the VIP hall of the Rafah crossing where they were given an overview of Egypt’s efforts to prevent further smuggling beneath the border.
The efforts to prevent the smuggling that goes on via the underground tunnels between the Egypt-Gaza border were taken up a notch when Egypt began installing the new security system last January.
The Gaza strip has been under a blockade for over two years now, and smuggling is an outlet to counter the border siege on every access point to the strip.