The implementation of the third phase of the Egypt-Gaza border buffer zone is still being surveyed, and has yet to take place, according to North Sinai Governor Brigadier Mohamed Abdel Moneim’s office. The second phase of the buffer zone along the border has been fully implemented, but so far there is no information about the third phase, Abdel Moneim’s office told Daily News Egypt Saturday.
The second phase involved the evacuation of 2,044 families from the area.
The buffer zone was originally set to cover an area of 5km along Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip. Its aim was to destroy all smuggling tunnels leading in and out of Sinai to prevent the infiltration of “terrorists and weapons”.
The first and second phases, each covering 500 metres, have now been completed.
The buffer zone is one of the security measures taken in North Sinai to counter insurgency in the peninsula which was witnessed at its peak in Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah and East Al-Arish.
A surge in militancy in North Sinai has been seen since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. “State of Sinai”, formally known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for almost all the attacks taking place in the area.
The most recent of these attacks was on 1 July, when the group launched a coordinated attack on several checkpoints in Sheikh Zuweid. The attack left 17 military personnel dead and injured 13 others, according to a statement by military spokesman Mohamed Samir.
Samir said that not less than 100 militants were killed in the exchange of fire during that day.
The armed forces are intensifying their efforts to eliminate “terrorism” from the peninsula which are frequently posted on their official Facebook page.
On Friday, two militants were killed as they drove a vehicle carrying ammunition which was targeted by security personnel.
On 8July, the armed forces announced the death of two militants and the arrest of 13 others. Furthermore, four militants were killed in Sheikh Zuweid on 7 July. During the time period between 1-5 July, 241 militants were killed and 33 others were arrested, according to separate statements by the military spokesman.
“State of Sinai” continually posts propaganda photos claiming attacks on security personnel through social media accounts affiliated with the group.