The Egyptian government is determined to solve the problem of weapons and militants crossing the border between Egypt and Palestine covertly. To make it harder for militants and smugglers to be successful, Egypt has started leveling areas of the Sinai Peninsula that border Palestine. The move is also aimed at shutting off the smuggling tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
The plan to level the area and widen the border has reportedly been in the works for more than a year. It appears as if a recent attack by militants that left 31 Egyptian soldiers dead was the last straw before the implementation of the demolition plan. The Egyptian Army is demolishing any homes and buildings that could be used as a haven for smugglers or a base for militants hell-bent on causing destruction and chaos.
Thousands of people have been displaced from the towns and villages bordering the Gaza Strip. Residents were abruptly ordered to abandon their homes and were given little time to collect their belongings. Those that have been forced to leave the area have been collecting compensation from local councils in neighboring towns as they seek new homes.
Surprisingly, there was little backlash when the demolition plans were announced by Egyptian officials. Journalists have been restricted from entering the areas slated for demolition by the military, but activists monitoring the process have reported that many of the displaced residents appeared to be moving on without much of a fight.
Many are weary of the months-long armed conflict between the insurgency and the army. Al Ahram, the state newspaper, carried a news article from government officials stating that the military had seen recent successes in fighting the militants, including the destruction of three weapons warehouses and seven “hotbeds of terrorism” and the killing of ten militants. However, attacks still occur and the fight rages on with civilians trapped in the middle of the conflict.