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Egypt, Israel agree to set up Gaza buffer zone


Egypt and Israel have agreed on a plan for the establishment of a buffer zone along the Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip, a report says.

According to the Qatar-funded al-Araby al-Jadeed newspaper, an unnamed Western diplomat recently said Egyptian and Israeli leaders had earlier agreed over the plan regarding the creation of the buffer zone.

The Qatari daily is reportedly headed by a former Arab member of the Israeli parliament (Knesset).

The paper said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to an Egypt-brokered ceasefire in Gaza back in August – which ended its deadly 50-day war on the Palestinian enclave – in order to prevent Qatar and Turkey from getting involved.

The newspaper added that in return for agreeing to the Egyptian-proposed truce, Tel Aviv also demanded that Egypt set up a buffer zone along its border with Gaza.

As part of the plans to create the 13-kilometer long and 500-meter wide buffer zone, the Egyptian army on Sunday reportedly destroyed homes in Rafah, near the border with southern Gaza Strip. About 10,000 residents were evacuated from their houses.

Egypt has also closed the Rafah border crossing and declared a three-month state of emergency.

The new move also comes just days after about 30 Egyptian security forces lost their lives and 30 others were wounded when an individual rammed a vehicle packed with explosives into a checkpoint in the area of Karam al-Qawadees near the town of Sheikh Zuweid, in Sinai Peninsula, close to the border with the Gaza Strip.

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