The military began bulldozing the border town, Rafah, several months ago as part of a sweeping response to repeated militant attacks on Egyptian security personnel in the Sinai Peninsula. After evacuating hundreds of families and clearing an area stretching 500 yards from the border, the authorities announced in November that they were doubling the size of the security zone.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Abdel Fattah Harhoor, the governor of North Sinai, said the zone would include “the entire city of Rafah,” according to a video of his remarks carried by the BBC.
Over 2,200 families are now out of home, though the Egyptian government has offered to build them new ones. We can’t help thinking what the international media would be saying if the Israelis had taken such a drastic step in an effort to cut off Hamas.
But Egypt’s obscurity here is to Israel’s advantage. The Israelis would prefer to replace Hamas with the PA in Gaza, but if they do it directly, it would be self-defeating because overt Israeli support would fatally undermine the PA. The Sisi government for its part loathes and fears Hamas because it’s a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. What’s the solution? While the world largely looks away, Egypt tightens its hold on the Sinai, strangling Hamas by inches.