Gaza redeploys forces along the border with Egypt
Gaza’s Interior Ministry and National Security redeploy forces along Egypt border in a plan to increase control over the border area.
Egyptian soldiers on Gazan border Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90
Gaza’s Interior Ministry and National Security on Thursday redeployed forces along the frontier with Egypt in a plan to increase control over the border area, the Ma’an news agency reported.
Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bazm said that the deployment was a confirmation of Egypt’s security and of the stability of the border zone.
Last week, it was reported that Hamas had begun deploying additional forces on the Gaza border in an apparent effort to ease Cairo's concerns about security.
Al-Bazm said Thursday that the deployment coincided with a planned tour of the southern Gaza Strip border area by leaders of the Interior Ministry and of “Islamist and national” forces.
There have been tensions between Egypt and Gaza’s Hamas rulers for several years now, as Cairo has accused Hamas of being involved in the terrorist attacks in the Sinai, most of which have been carried out by the “Sinai Province”, which is the Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate in Egypt.
The latest example of the tension came last month when Egypt accused Hamas of involvement, along with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, in last year's killing of the country's top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, an allegation which Hamas denied.
Egypt began creating a wide buffer zone along the Gaza border in late 2014 in a bid to destroy the hundreds of smuggling tunnels Cairo says are used by Palestinian Arabs to deliver weapons to jihadists who are battling Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula.
The decision on the buffer zone was made following two deadly attacks in El-Arish, which killed dozens of soldiers and were claimed by Egypt’s deadliest terrorist group, the Islamic State-affiliated Sinai Province. Egypt said Hamas assisted Sinai Province in those attacks.
Egypt has also destroyed and flooded hundreds of tunnels as part of the ongoing security campaign in the northern Sinai Peninsula.