By Tony Sokol
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
RAFAH, Egypt, Feb. 4, 2015 /Daily Offbeat/ — Look at that dateline, Rafah, Egypt. It has been around for 3,300 years. It survived invading armies from Assyria, Greece, and Rome. It outlived the armies of Napoleon. But it will not outlive the bulldozers. Before this year is out, Rafah will cease to exist.
Rafah has been a part of Egypt since the pharaonic period. Rafah is currently a Palestinian city and refugee camp in the Sinai Peninsula in northeast Egypt bordering the southern Gaza Strip. The Egyptian city is going to be demolished for security reasons.
According to Daily News Egypt, Rafah is to be demolished to make way for a security “buffer zone” as authorities try to rein in militant activity and smuggling. Journalists are forbidden in the eastern part of Egypt, but images of the scene have been leaked.
The residents of Rafah already live under martial law. They have a 4 p.m. curfew. According to reports there are checkpoints, raids on homes and random arrests in certain areas.
North Sinai Governor Abdel Fatah Harhoor, announced plans to create a 3-mile buffer zone along the Gaza border that would include “the entire town of Rafah.” The residents of the city will reportedly be relocated to the city of New Rafah, which hasn’t been built yet.
Egyptian authorities announced plans to demolish 1,220 houses to in an attempt to disrupt smuggling and militant operations in Sinai.
The plan was put into action in late October. “We don’t want to see these tunnels used for illegal ways of smuggling either people or weapons that can really harm Egyptian security,” Essam el-Haddad, former national security advisor to ousted Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi told Reuters at the time. Essam el-Haddad is currently in prison.
Police notified residents they would forcibly seize property of anyone didn’t comply with the order clearing the city. The zone was increased 1,640 feet in January.
Sinai increased it crackdown on jihadi and extremist activity in mid-2013. What had been a “low level conflict” grew to a large insurgency. Over the last 18 months, hundreds of security forces have been killed. In October of 2014, one attack left over 30 dead. On Jan. 19, 27 Egyptian soldiers were killed in a attacks on North Sinai and Suez military facilities.
The State of Sinai, formerly Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, took responsibility for the attack on Twitter.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has successfully delivered a strong recruitment messaging since they formed. the Sinai-based terrorist group appeals to the locals’ political and economic frustrations.
“The longer it takes them to pay out compensations and to find places to live and to renew livelihoods of those who are being displaced, the more susceptible the 10,000 people who are being displaced are to jihadi recruitment,” Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies fellow Zack Gold told Global Post magazine.
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