THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – By Julia Lugovska – Hamas officials revealed negative reaction on the plans of Egyptian government to create a buffer zone in Northern Sinai, in the areas close to the Gaza Strip border. The decision of Egyptian government to clear the area and to relocate local residents for launching more effective military operation to confront Sinai based terrorists will benefit and support Israeli blockade of Gaza Strip, stated Hamas official Osama Hamdan during his recent interview.
“The buffer zone with Gaza’s borders will only increase the siege imposed for years and will only strengthen the case of incitement against Palestinian people,” Osama Hamdan continued.
Hamas officially criticizes and refuses to support the idea of Egyptian government to create the buffer zone as it has nothing to do with the issue of security in Sinai. Hamas also is keen in keeping good relations with Egypt and thinks Egypt should better intensify pressure on Israeli government demanding to lift Gaza air, sea and ground blockade, which was imposed by the Israeli government since 2007, when Hamas came in power in the enclave.
Egyptian Armed Forces officials though denied the Hamas comments regarding the plans to create a buffer zone and added that Hamas officials should not interfere in Egyptian internal affairs.
Meanwhile the reaction over the possibility of creating the buffer zone in Northern Sinai and replacement of the locals living close to the borders caused different reactions in Egyptian society, as some activists and politicians supported it, while the others denounced the idea, claiming that displacement of Egyptians living in the area will be actually an option preferred by an enemy. In addition to that such a step would mean a fight against local tribes and Bedouins.
The idea of creating a buffer zone for the successful military operation in Northern Sinai and restoring stability and peace in the region came shortly after the deadly terrorist attack against Egyptian Army left 33 soldiers dead on Friday, 24 October. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi accused Sinai based terrorists of the attacks and declared state of emergency in Sinai. Massive military operation is ongoing in the area.