Secrecy, Confusion Over Egyptian Excavations Along Sinai-Gaza Border
Egypt has started a secretive process of excavating what appears to be a buffer zone along the border between the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, possibly with a view to building infrastructure to service the Palestinian enclave. Sources told The Media Line that the Egyptian army has banned journalists from the area and is attempting to make life extremely difficult for local residents, including by greatly reducing the amount of fuel available to them, in order to induce them to relocate. Tourists are also being encouraged to leave the area, even as Cairo remains tight-lipped on the exact nature of the undertaking. To this end, the sources added that the Egyptian government has passed a measure barring citizens outside of the military from speaking about the initiative. The speculation is that Egypt is laying the groundwork for the potential construction of facilities to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza, as reportedly envisioned by U.S. President Donald Trump’s yet-unveiled peace plan. The White House’s proposal is believed to include a major economic component, and the idea of developing northern Sinai has in the past been floated both as a means of incentivizing the process for Egypt and as a way to ensure that Hamas does not control the loci of production. Currently, a diplomatic push is underway to forge a comprehensive, multi-phased ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas, which in the last stage reportedly calls for the lifting of the Gaza blockade and the launch of major international investment projects. It is unclear, however, why the Egyptian army would have started this work already, as neither a truce agreement has been finalized nor the American peace plan rolled out.