President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi ordered the Specialized Council for Community Development on Wednesday to put together a study on the mechanisms of building a “new Rafah”.
The council and all relevant state institutions are to present the president with a comprehensive study to build an integrated urban community to achieve sustainable development for the people of Rafah within 15 days, reported state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram.
The decision was based on a report from the council on its Monday meeting with elders and leaders from Rafah, which borders the Gaza Strip in the Sinai Peninsula.
The meeting was at the order of Al-Sisi after the government’s decision to enforce a “secure zone” along Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip. The zone involved the evacuation of hundreds of people living within 500 metres of the border, with their homes set to be destroyed.
The creation of the “secure zone” is in reaction to militant attacks in North Sinai on 24 October that left at least 30 security personnel dead. Al-Sisi blamed the attacks on unspecified “foreign elements”. Officials subsequently claimed a security threat was posed by tunnels linking Egypt and Gaza in the Rafah area.
Al-Sisi also ordered the relevant government bodies to examine the implementation of compensating those affected by the relocation decision and compile a report.
The report proposed the establishment of an integrated, urban, and modern society in the northern Sinai that takes into account the social, cultural, and economic dimensions of the people of Rafah.
The report also expressed the understanding of Rafah residents of the actions taken by the state against terrorism.
Al-Sisi stressed the need for continued dialogue with the people of Sinai to achieve increasing rates of development and stability in Sinai.