CAIRO: Hamas has criticized plans rumored to be in discussion by Egyptian authorities to establish a military buffer zone in North Sinai following militant attacks that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers there Friday.
They said the buffer zone would worsen the humanitarian situation in Gaza by cutting off access to essential goods.
“The buffer zone that the Egyptian Army wants to establish along the border with Gaza supports [the Israeli] blockade,” said Osama Hemdan, a Hamas foreign affairs official, in a statement Sunday evening.
He noted that Hamas has no links to what happened in Arish, where an attack targeting military personnel killed 31 soldiers and injured 31 others Friday.
Sameh Seif al-Yazal, a military expert and head of Al-Gomhouria Center for Political and Strategic Studies, proposed Saturday that building a buffer zone between Egypt and the Gaza Strip would prevent the digging of smuggling tunnels. Yazal noted in his remarks to the “Hayat al-Aan” (Life Now) talk show that the buffer zone should extend for five kilometers from the border.
Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Monday that the sheikhs of tribes in Sinai have met with security leaders proposing to dig a small 15 kilometer canal between the Rafah and Karam Abu Salem border crossings to completely destroy the tunnels.
For his part, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his support for Egyptian measures being taken along the borders, saying in a statement published by the Palestinian News Agency (WAFA) Sunday, “We stand beside Egypt’s leadership, government and people. We support all measures to be taken by the Egyptian leadership in order to maintain security and stability in Egypt, and to face the terrorism in the Sinai.”