SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- Egypt has decided to extend the depth of its security buffer zone on its border with the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip from 500 meters to one kilometer, state media say.
Citing security officials, Egypt’s state MENA news agency said Monday that the decision had been taken “after the discovery of underground tunnels with a total length of 800 to 1,000 meters” along the border with Gaza.
It was said that Egyptian border guards also destroyed 12 new tunnels leading into Gaza.
Cairo has also announced plans to destroy 800 homes to set up a buffer zone near the border with Gaza following an attack on the army in the volatile Sinai Peninsula that left dozens of soldiers dead on October 24.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which recently pledged allegiance to the ISIL terrorist group, claimed responsibility for the attack in Sinai, which has long been considered a safe haven for gunmen who use the region as a base for their acts of terror.
The government had ordered the area’s 10,000 residents to pack up and leave before they would destroy their homes.
An Egyptian military source said 200 families had accepted compensation to abandon their homes, while there are still 680 more families facing impending expulsion.
The forced evacuations have angered residents of the border areas.
The Egyptian military has stepped up its crackdown on the tunnels into the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip since it ousted the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in a coup in July last year.
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.