Hamas building buffer zone along Gaza-Egypt border

by WorldTribune Staff, June 29, 2017

Seeking to improve strained ties with Egypt, Hamas is constructing a buffer zone along the Gaza Strip border with Egypt.

Palestinian security forces patrol a section of the border with Egypt in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah on June 28, with the Egyptian side of the border appearing on the left.

Hamas’s Ministry of the Interior and the Internal Security arm of Hamas began constructing the buffer zone after recent meetings between Hamas leaders and top ranking officials within the Egyptian intelligence community, the Jerusalem Post reported on June 28.

Hamas has begun to “remove all the obstacles, including trees, water wells, and sand dunes that pose difficulties to keeping the border under control,” said Maj. Gen. Tawfiq Abu Naim, the Deputy Minister of Interior for Gaza.

Earlier this month, a delegation from Hamas, headed by Yehiya Sinwar, the newly chosen leader in Gaza, arrived in Cairo to hold a high-level meeting with Egypt’s security officials after months of tensions.

A Hamas official told AFP that, during the Cairo talks, the two sides had an understanding to re-open the Rafah border crossing in September. The crossing has been continuously closed except for some days of partial openings.

Hamas plans to level the terrain near the border with Egypt and build an earth levee to separate the last houses in the Palestinian side of Rafah – the city also has an Egyptian side – from the new buffer zone, the report said.

Observation towers will be built and monitoring cameras will survey the border crossing, the Interior Ministry said.

Naim said communication with the Egyptian side is ongoing and that the buffer zone might increase in scope if that is deemed necessary.

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