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Amnesty International slams Egypt over Rafah buffer zone

Amnesty International slams Egypt over Rafah buffer zone

Amnesty International has condemned Egypt’s demolition of hundreds of homes and called for a halt to its “unlawful evictions” of residents to create a buffer zone with the Gaza Strip.

Press TV reports: Late in October, Egypt started setting up the buffer zone along its border with Gaza. As part of the plan to create the 13-kilometer long and 500-meter wide buffer zone, the Egyptian army reportedly destroyed more than 800 homes in Rafah, while about 1,100 residents in the area were displaced.

Amnesty International on Thursday called on Egyptian authorities to put an end to the “unlawful evictions” of residents to create the buffer zone.

“Egyptian authorities must halt the arbitrary demolition of hundreds of homes and mass forced evictions underway in Rafah and North Sinai in order to create a buffer zone along the border with the Gaza Strip,” said Amnesty.

They “have proceeded with the evictions completely ignoring key safeguards required under international law including consultation with residents, adequate prior notice, sufficient compensation for losses, and granting alternative housing to those who cannot provide for themselves, rendering the evictions unlawful,” Amnesty added.

The Egyptian authorities decided to create the buffer zone after recent deadly attacks in the Sinai Peninsula targeting Egyptian military personnel and killing 33 Egyptian soldiers on October 24.

After the attacks, Egyptian authorities also sealed the Rafah border crossing, which is Gaza’s only land terminal that bypasses Israel.

Early in November, the Palestinian ambassador to Egypt, Jamal al-Shobaki, asked Cairo to reopen the border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Gaza has been blockaded since 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.