Egypt evacuates residents at Gaza borders to resume wall building

08:26, April 20, 2010      

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Egyptian authorities on Monday started to evacuate several areas at borders with Gaza to continue the construction of the underground steel wall which aims to prevent Gazans from extending secret tunnels into the country's territories.

Some 200 houses which are very close to borders with Gaza Strip will be evacuated as they might be exposed to collapse in case the underground excavations and constructions continued, Soleiman Al- Baeira, Chairman of Rafah Municipal Council, told Xinhua.

The senior Egyptian official added that residents will be moved to new housing units 1.5 km away from their old homes, pointing out that the government has built the new units at a total cost of 150 million Egyptian Pounds (around 27.1 million U.S. dollars).

Al-Baeira also pointed out that the authorities are currently negotiating with around 175 families living near borders to move them to other places and offer compensation.

Meanwhile, he said that an unidentified number of residents have expressed their willingness to move to other areas on condition of giving them satisfying compensation, while others rejected.

Egypt is building a huge underground steel wall in Rafah along the border with Gaza Strip in an attempt to curb smuggling into the Palestinian territory through tunnels.

The Gaza Strip has been under a tight Israeli siege since the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) seized control of the coastal strip in 2007.

Some Gazans have resorted to tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border to bring in much-needed daily necessities. Israel has accused Palestinian militants of smuggling weapons into the enclave by these tunnels.



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