Egypt destroys 'hundreds of more homes' to expand Gaza buffer zone
Egypt has arbitrarily demolished thousands of homes since 2013 to create the buffer zone, claiming it is necessary to prevent the flow of weapons and militants from Gaza.
Nearly 4,000 people have been forcibly evicted as part of the demolitions, which Human Rights Watch says may amount to a violation of international law.
The governor of the Northern Sinai province Major General Abdel-Fatah Harhour told The Associated Press late on Monday that the military began a new phase in clearing the zone, which is 1,500 metres wide and 10 kilometres long.
The government has promised to compensate those who lost their homes and farms, Harhour said, with residents set to receive 3,000 Egyptian pounds (nearly $170) each to pay for "alternative accommodation."
A local tribal leader Sheikh Issa Karafin said, however, that some of the displaced have yet to receive the money.
Karafin says he has helped over two dozen evicted families find places to live in Ismailia over the past two weeks after the military ordered them to evacuate their homes in August.
One resident said he and his family live in a desert area, "in huts with no electricity or water." He spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from authorities.
Egypt has long accused Hamas of fuelling unrest in North Sinai, where its army has been battling extremists since the toppling of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi after a year in office in 2013.
Both Egypt and Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas ousted forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007 in bloody street battles.
Palestinians have been split between the rival groups since then, with Hamas ruling Gaza and Abbas governing parts of the West Bank.