North Sinai Governor Abdel Fattah Harhour announced Tuesday that buildings and facilities located in the area of the buffer zone’s third phase have been completely surveyed in preparation for evacuation, state media reported.
The first and second phases have been completed, with each phase covering 500 metres. It is believed that the third phase will cover an additional 500 metres.
The first phase involved the displacement of more than 1,000 families, whilst the second phase involved the evacuation of 2,044 families from the area. The third phase will involve approximately 1,215 houses and 40 governmental facilities. The compensatory value for the buildings is currently being surveyed in order to be disbursed to the families.
The buffer zone is amongst the security measures taken by the armed forces in order to destroy smuggling tunnels connecting North Sinai with the Gaza Strip. The tunnels were used to smuggle “terrorists and weapons” into the restive Sinai Peninsula.
Harhour said that the new Rafah city will be constructed behind the buffer zone, which is set to be 5 km in depth along the border with Gaza.
North Sinai has seen a surge in militant activities over the past two years. Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, currently known as “State of Sinai”, has increased operations targeting security personnel and facilities in East Al-Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid.
The group claimed responsibility for the most prominent attacks in the peninsula. The most recent of these was implemented on 1 July, targeting a number of checkpoints across Sheikh Zuweid.