Egypt to double Gaza buffer zone width next week


Egypt says it will double the width of a buffer zone being constructed along the border with the Gaza Strip, which has been under an Israeli blockade for the past seven years.

Egyptian authorities will next week double the width of a 500-meter (546-yard) wide buffer zone currently under construction along some 10 kilometers (six miles) of the border, North Sinai provincial Governor Abdel Fattah Harhur said on Tuesday.

Some 800 homes will be demolished in the process.

Families from the area were told to evacuate and inform authorities of the Rafah border crossing whether they seek financial compensation or alternative housing, Harhur added.

The Egyptian military has stepped up destruction of tunnels into Gaza since Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, was ousted in a coup in July 2013.

More than 1,600 tunnels have been destroyed since the military-backed government came to power in Cairo last year.

The underground routes are the only lifeline for Gazans living under the Israeli blockade. Palestinians use the tunnels to bring essential supplies, such as foodstuff, cooking gas, medicines, petrol, and livestock, into the impoverished land.

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