The Egyptian military has razed to the ground at least 1,020 homes in Rafah, near the border with southern Gaza Strip, to create a buffer zone with the blockaded Palestinian territory.
According to Egyptian security officials on Tuesday, 200 more homes would be destroyed in the area to extend the buffer zone as many as 500 meters from the border.
This is the second phase of a demolition plan announced by Cairo following an attack by unknown gunmen on a checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula that killed dozens of soldiers last October.
After the attacks, Egyptian authorities also sealed the Rafah border crossing, which is Gaza’s only land terminal that bypasses Israel.
Some 800 homes and buildings were ruined in the first phase of the buffer zone project, which Cairo claims will prevent Gazans from entering Egypt.
On November 27, 2014, Amnesty International condemned Egypt over razing to the ground hundreds of homes in Rafah, calling on Egyptian authorities to put an end to the “unlawful evictions” of residents to create the buffer zone.
“Egyptian authorities must halt the arbitrary demolition of hundreds of homes and mass forced evictions underway in Rafah and North Sinai in order to create a buffer zone along the border with the Gaza Strip,” said Amnesty.
The Egyptian military has also stepped up its crackdown on the tunnels into Gaza since it ousted the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in July 2013.
This is while the tunnels are the only lifeline for Gazans living under the Israeli siege. Palestinians use the tunnels to bring essential supplies, such as foodstuff, cooking gas, medicines, petrol, and livestock, into the impoverished land.
Gaza has been blockaded since 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.