Abbas: Egypt right to create buffer zone on Gaza border

Haaretz, 01.12.14


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he cannot ask Egypt to stop its operation to demolish houses and create a buffer zone in Rafah, on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza, because he is fully aware of Egyptian security needs.

The Egyptians have been clearing a strip up to half a kilometer wide along the border in a bid to destroy smuggling tunnels into Gaza, demolishing the homes of Palestinians located along the border.

In an interview with Egyptian newspaper Al-Akhbar, Abbas said 1,800 millionaires had been created in Gaza after they took advantage of the blockade and used the smuggling tunnels for their own personal benefit. As those tunnels were also used for smuggling weapons, drugs, cash and equipment for forging documents, Abbas believed the destruction of the tunnels was the best solution.

The Palestinian president said he had recommended previously the sealing or destruction of the tunnels by flooding them and then punishing the owners of the homes that contained entrances to the tunnels, including demolishing their homes.