CAIRO: Egypt is studying a possible expansion of a 1-km wide buffer zone along the Rafah border in Gaza that was established in October to combat smuggling tunnels, Youm7 reported Wednesday.
Anonymous sources told Youm7 that there are ongoing studies by technical military engineers.
The armed forces announced Sunday it had discovered a 2.8 km smuggling tunnel passing under three homes in Rafah City near the borders with Gaza. The tunnel is the longest one uncovered so far since an intensified security campaign took place in North Sinai.
A few days before Sunday’s discovery, armed forces uncovered a 2km tunnel. On Dec. 30, a 1,700 meter-long tunnel was uncovered in Egyptian Rafah.
The armed forces intensified a security operation in the northern tip of the peninsula after an October 2014 attack that killed over 30 military personnel.
The buffer zone was announced after this attack, and required the displacement of more than 1,000 families, which the state announced it would compensate.
Since the zone was established, security forces have announced they have uncovered more than 240 tunnels, and killed hundreds of alleged extremists amid the campaign taking place in North Sinai.
Used for smuggling persons, equipments and goods, the discovered tunnels are destroyed either by flooding, dynamite and explosives or heavy equipments.
Since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, military personnel in North Sinai have been targeted by radical groups there, and hundreds of army and police forces have been killed.
In January, more than 40 security forces and civilians were killed in an attack in Arish.
The responsibility for most of the attacks in the peninsula has been claimed by the Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, recently re-branded as “Wilayat Sinai,” meaning State of the Sinai, after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group.
Additional reporting by Mohamed Tantawy and Nourhan Magdi