A total 313 houses have been demolished in the second phase of the Rafah buffer zone, out of a total of 1,220 houses marked for demolition in the area, state-run MENA news agency reported Saturday.
The second phase of the buffer zone involves the forced evacuation of 2,044 families. It covers a strip of land that is located between 1km and 500 metres from the Rafah-Gaza border. The first 500 metres of the buffer zone has already been established, in what authorities dubbed “phase one” of the plan.
North Sinai Governor Abdel Fattah Harhour told Daily News Egypt that the amount of money allocated as financial compensation for the families forced to evacuate during the second phase has yet to be decided; however, he said it would be no less than the amount allocated to displaced families in the first phase.
Egypt has allocated EGP 500m as compensation for people who had to leave their homes during the first phase, in addition to EGP 1,500 per family, disbursed in allotments of EGP 500 per month for a period of three months, prior to receiving the compensations for the value of their homes and lands.
The first phase involved the demolition of 837 houses and the displacement of over 1,000 families.
The buffer zone is one of several measures undertaken by the government to counter the insurgency in North Sinai. The announcement to create a buffer zone to destroy all the underground smuggling tunnels leading to Gaza came in the wake of the 24 October attacks on security personnel, which left at least 30 dead. “State of Sinai’, formerly known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, claimed the attacks.
The buffer zone was initially set to measure a 1km in width. However, Harhour lter announced the expansion of the buffer zone to cover an area extending 5km from the border.
The decision to expand the buffer zone came after the authorities discovered in December a tunnel that measured 1,700 metres and reached beyond the first and the second phase.
Earlier this month, the Egyptian armed forces reported they discovered and blew up a 1,200 metres tunnel containing weapons and explosives.