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Will Egypt's buffer zone worsen Israel-Hamas friction?

Egypt's plan to clear a buffer zone on its Gaza-Sinai border will oblige Hamas to depend on the crossing points to Israel, a reality that might lead to another round of conflict.
Smoke rises as a house is blown up during a military operation by Egyptian security forces in the Egyptian city of Rafah, near the border with southern Gaza Strip November 3, 2014. Egypt began clearing residents from its border with the Gaza Strip last week to create a buffer zone following some of the worst anti-state violence since President Mohamed Mursi was overthrown last year. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR4CMBX

The establishment of a buffer zone that would separate the Gaza Strip from Egypt was the dream the political, security and military echelons in Israel toyed with prior to and in the course of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005. It was already clear then that the “iron wall” running along the Philadelphi Route — as the border zone was dubbed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) — was no longer effective. The border route was time and again breached by the so-called “rats of Gaza,” as the tunnel diggers were labeled.

At the time, Israel was considering the establishment of a buffer zone. However, the idea has not materialized, mainly because then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak refused to cooperate. The IDF had even prepared a contingency plan for the compensation of 300 Palestinian families for the loss of their homes — in respect of the need “to flatten the ground” and “to expand the military freedom of operation,” as they used to laconically explain in the IDF about the need for a zone free of houses along the border with Egypt.

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