At least 13 houses were demolished in Rafah Monday as per the second phase of the ongoing border evacuation in North Sinai, according to state media MENA which quoted security officials.
A total of 1,044 houses were removed out of 1,220 counted houses for the second phase, over a distance of 500 metres, as part of the army’s project to establish a security buffer zone along the border with the Gaza Strip.
Last January, another 313 houses were removed. According to MENA, 837 houses were demolished in the first phase, also covering 500 metres alongside the border. The first phase was completed last November, displacing over 1,000 families.
Last October, residents living within 500 metres of the Egypt-Gaza border were told to leave their homes for the armed forces to establish what it describes as a “secure zone” in order to eliminate the use of smuggling tunnels between the Egypt-Gaza borders.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi had promised compensations that would cost the government up to EGP 1bn.
According to state media, compensations of EGP 1,200 should go for each square metre of a concrete building, and EGP 700 per square metre for other types of buildings. Additionally, there is a EGP 100 compensation per square metre of land a house is built on and a total of EGP 1,500 per family for other places of residency.
There will also be an allowance of EGP 1,000 per month for those who have businesses that were harmed by the evacuation. In addition, compensation will be given for those who are entitled to pension, even NGOs who have been out of business in Rafah for some time.
The buffer zone is one of several measures undertaken by the government to counter the insurgency in North Sinai. The decision arrived 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 1km in width. However, the government later decided to expand the buffer zone to cover an area extending 5km from the border, after a tunnel that measured 1,700 metres and reached beyond the first and the second phase was discovered in December 2014.