Sunday, July 22, 2007
"Over 700 Egyptians protested Sunday a government plan to evict them from their homes in order to improve security along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, police and demonstrators said.
Egyptian authorities have previously evicted residents living within 50 meters of the border to prevent traffickers and militants from digging tunnels to covertly enter Gaza. Protesters on Sunday were demonstrating against a new plan that would evict people from homes within an additional 100 meters from the border. "We would rather face death than eviction," angry protesters chanted as they set tires ablaze in the border town of Rafah.
An Egyptian security official in Rafah said local authorities were still considering the eviction plan and that no resident had yet been asked to move.
"If the plan is implemented, the evicted families would get fair compensation for their lost homes and lands," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity for not being authorized to give statements to the press.
Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip two years ago, Palestinians have frequently used tunnels to smuggle weapons and contraband into Gaza from Egypt. Israel has complained that Palestinian militant groups smuggle in explosives, to be used against nearby Israeli towns, and that Egypt is not doing enough to stop the smuggling.
Egypt has rejected the allegations but recently said it would make a greater effort to crack down on the trafficking."