CAIRO: The government has so far paid 572 million EGP ($74 million) in compensation to Rafah residents displaced under the established buffer zone, said North Sinai Governor Abdel Fatah Harhour during a Thursday news conference.
After an October 2014 attack killed more than 30 soldiers, the army created a 1 km buffer zone to demolish homes along the Rafah-Gaza border in search for hidden smuggling tunnels and militants.
Since then, thousands of residents have been evacuated and promised compensation.
Forces demolished 837 homes as a first phase of the zone and they are almost close to finalize the second phase that contains 1,247 homes, according to Harhour.
The governor added that compensations were paid to 711 out of 1056 residents of the first phase were compensated, and to 964 others of the second phase.
Since the establishment of the buffer zone, Harour said that 684 tunnels have been discovered.
The state recently announced it would consider a potential expansion of the buffer zone, after some discovered tunnels extended past the zone’s reach.
The governor also said that a new Rafah city would be established over an area of 700 feddans.
Security Campaign continues in North Sinai
Some 1,750 anti-aircraft missiles were seized in a desert area in the center of Sinai within the past few hours, according to Thursday statement by the North Sinai Security Directorate.
The statement added that 12 suspects were arrested, 26 “terrorist” hotbeds were destroyed and four attempted attacks at security services during military operation were foiled.
As part of the campaign, security forces inspected 178 homes and six farms.
The military operation in North Sinai has resulted in the killing and arrests of scores of militants, some of whom were announced to have partaken in attacks against security utilities in the peninsula.
The announcements come as part of the outcomes of the ongoing security campaign and military strikes at militants’ hotbeds in North Sinai.
The campaign aims to curb the Islamist insurgency, which has launched several attacks killing hundreds of soldiers in the northern tip of the peninsula since the 2013 ouster of Mohamed Morsi.
Additional reporting by Mohamed Hussein