MOSCOW, November 7 (RIA Novosti) – Egypt has started a demolition of hundreds of homes along the border of the Gaza Strip in a campaign to push thousands of local residents out of the area, Associated Press reported Thursday.
The government in Cairo announced the demolition plan last month, following the death of 31 Egyptian soldiers during an assault on a checkpoint 30 kilometers from Rafah, as Egypt has been struggling with a series of attacks by Islamic extremists in Sinai, the Jerusalem Post said.
The campaign means to halt the smuggling of weapons in the area, as militants are using underground tunnels to bring weapons in and out of Gaza, according to Egypt. The government wants to build a 500-meter wide buffer zone along the border, AP said.
Egyptian forces plan to demolish up to 800 homes, forcing as many as 10,000 residents out of the area, AP reported.
“We have no option, but silence and lining up behind the military. This is not the time to clash with the state because any clash with the state will be perceived as a betrayal to Egypt,” said a local resident Said Aitaq, as quoted by AP.
Wreckage of border communities may stir up more insurgency in the area in the long-term, the Guardian said.