Egypt has started work on the second stage of a buffer zone between the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip for the purpose of ending cross-border weapons smuggling and terrorism.
Late last year, Egypt announced plans to double its security buffer zone along the Gaza border to 1 kilometer (about six-tenths of a mile), which would mean the relocation of some 1,200 homes on the Egyptian side of the border.
Egypt’s decision came after the discovery of longer tunnels-spanning between 800 and 1,000 meters (2,625 to 3,280 feet)-under the Gaza border. Egypt said there would be additional stages that will ultimately expand the buffer zone to between 1,500 and 2,000 meters (roughly 1 mile to 1.25 miles), the Times of Israel reported.
The initial plan to create the buffer zone came after an upsurge in terrorist attacks against Egyptian military and police personnel in the Sinai Peninsula by terrorist groups such as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which recently declared allegiance to the Islamic State terror group.
Egypt has accused Gaza-ruling Hamas-an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now a state-banned terrorist organization in Egypt-of supporting terror groups in the Sinai Peninsula.