Sisi promises up to LE1 bln for displaced Rafah residents
Rafah border crossing
 

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promised a compensation package for people displaced from their Rafah homes that could total up to LE1 billion, the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported on Monday.

Sisi did not specify the individual breakdown of the compensation package, but he insisted that the state would spend millions of pounds, at the very least.

An estimated 1,156 families will be forced to leave their homes by military order as the Armed Forces intensify their battle against militant groups in the embattled peninsula.

Soldiers began demolishing homes last Wednesday in order to create a buffer zone between the border towns of Rafah and Sheikh Zuwayed. The buffer area will be 14 km long and 500 meters wide, encompassing more than 800 properties and 910 cultivated acres, according to Al-Ahram.

A reported 136 homes have already been demolished to date.

The military also reportedly plans to build a 30-meter-wide trench in the middle of the buffer zone to prevent smuggling between Sinai and the neighboring Gaza Strip.

The intensified operations come in response to the October 24 deadly attack on the Karm al-Qawadees checkpoint near Rafah, which claimed the lives of at least 33 soldiers.

In its counter-operation, the military has killed at least 8 people identified as terrorist elements by the Armed Forces spokesperson.

Al-Ahram had previously reported that residents would receive LE300 a month for a period of three months following their forced evacuation, an amount roughly comparable to rents in Rafah. Homeowners would be compensated for the estimated values of their homes, according to the newspaper.

Also on Monday, the Executive Council for Community Development met with leaders from the Rafah community to discuss the compensation issue, Al-Ahram said.

The council reportedly apologized to the members of the community and thanked them for their sacrifice, then promised to continue to hold regular meetings until an appropriate level of compensation is determined.

However, the council does not have the power to make any executive decisions in the matter.

Although there has not been much public opposition to the military’s actions, the state-ordered demolition of homes in Rafah has been criticized by activists for its detrimental effects on innocent civilians.

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