The Information and Decision Support Centre (IDSC) said on Monday that 802 homes are to be evacuated as part of the armed forces’ project to establish a secure zone along the Egypt-Gaza border, reported state-run MENA.
The IDSC, which is the cabinet’s think-tank responsible for publishing data, said that 1,156 families are to be evacuated in total, stressing that the families are to be compensated with EGP 300 per month for three months, followed by compensation for the market value of the home that is to be destroyed for the establishment of the “secure zone”.
The IDSC said homes will be levelled “at the same time” as full compensation is delivered to the families. The government body claimed that there have been no forced removals in response to claims in the media.
Two attacks in North Sinai on 24 October resulted in the killing of at least 30 members of the armed forces, the deadliest attack in years. Following the incidents, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with the National Defence Council, from which the order for the armed forces to create a “secure zone” – also described as a “buffer zone” – along the Sinai-Gaza border.
The zone involved the evacuation of hundreds of people living within 500 metres of the border, with their homes set to be destroyed. A three-month state of emergency and a curfew were also imposed in areas of North Sinai.
Al-Sisi said the day after the attacks that there had been foreign involvement, although he did not elaborate any further.The Sinai Development Council (SDC) is set to meet with elders and leaders from the border town of Rafah on Monday.
The SDC has been instructed by Al-Sisi to discuss the Rafah elders and leaders’ “vision of the mechanisms required for the advancement of the status of the Sinai community”. It will also meet to hear the current problems facing communities in the volatile peninsula, according to a Monday statement from the State Information Service (SIS).
The meeting comes following Al-Sisi’s assurance that residents evacuated from their homes would be fully compensated and receive “national recognition of their role in this defining period”, read the statement.
The armed forces said the “secure zone” was designed to eradicate the use of smuggling tunnels that cross the Egypt-Gaza border, adding they present one of the biggest threats to Egypt’s national security.
The tunnels have been used in the past to bypass the air, land, and sea blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip since 2007. While providing Palestinians living in Gaza with vital access to goods normally restricted, the tunnels are illegal and have also been previously used to smuggle drugs, people, and weapons across the border.
Hamas, the ruling power in the Palestinian territory, said the “secure zone” supports the Israeli blockade and harms Palestinians.