Mahlab forms committee to develop new Rafah headed by Defense Min.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO:  A new committee in charge of the development of the new Rafah city is to be established under the supervision of the Ministry of Defense, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab announced Thursday.

The committee is to combine representatives of the different ministries and experts in urban planning, economic development to expand projects in the area, and is required to submit its execution plan to the Cabinet within two weeks from its formation.

This comes as the Armed Forces announced the successful evacuation of 500km of a 1km planned buffer zone next to the border with Rafah, despite controversy over the “forced evacuation.” As many as 800 houses were evicted, in exchange for temporary compensation of 900 EGP ($126,) for residents stay in Sheikh Zuwayed city until new locations are available.

The order to establish the buffer zone followed an attack in Arish that killed 31 soldiers and injured dozens more.

On Nov. 5, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi ordered his Specialist Council for Community Development to conduct studies to establish the new city as an integrated community, after he had announced in a public speech in Rafah the allocation of as much as 1 billion EGP for the reconstruction.

The army carried out the plan after the situation had become dangerous for the residents in North Sinai, mainly on borders where constant armed conflicts between the military and terrorist groups have left civilian victims on the way.

Additional reporting by Hend Mokhtar.

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