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The Egypt–Gaza barrier refers to the steel border barrier along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Because it is essentially splitting the city of Rafah, the steel barrier is also referred as a separation wall.
In December 2009, with help from the U.S., Egypt started building a steel wall along the Gaza border. If it is finished, the wall will be 10-11 km (6-7 miles) long and extend 18 metres (60 feet) below the surface. The wall was to be completed in 18 months.
On 29 October 2014, Egypt had begun demolishing homes along its border with the Gaza Strip as part of a planned 500 metres (550 yards) buffer zone that is intended to prevent weapons smuggling entering Gaza.
Egypt has reinforced the border with several hundred troops to protect construction crews from Palestinian sniper attacks.
Palestinian sources said that construction of the barrier was damaging dozens of smuggling tunnels as deep as 30 meters (100 feet), causing them to collapse on a nearly daily basis and killing operators, especially tunnels near the Rafah border terminal. They added that most of the 1,500 tunnels between Gaza and Egypt remained unaffected. The sources also stated that the project has alarmed the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip, which charges an annual $2,500 for the right to operate a tunnel.
According to analysts at a January 2010 Egyptian security conference, the barrier reflects Cairo's concern that al-Qaeda-inspired militants from the Gaza Strip will infiltrate Egypt after being forced out by Hamas, the de facto governing authority in the Strip, which the State of Israel considers as a terrorist group. The analysts said Egypt could become a haven and a battleground for small Salafist militant groups such as Jund Ansar Allah, Jaysh al Islam and Jaljalat, which have been squashed by Hamas since it took control in 2007.
The barrier has proved to be of little effect, with it being "breached hundreds of times" according to an Egyptian security official.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared support for the barrier, adding: "It is the Egyptians’ sovereign right in their own country. Legitimate supplies should be brought through the legal crossings." The United States announced its support for the barrier saying it would help to prevent weapons smuggling. Cairo's main Al-Azhar University officially backed the government's decision saying that it was the "state's right to build along its walls facilities and obstacles that will enhance its security."
The Islamic Action Front, a Jordanian Islamist group, criticized Egypt for the barrier and accused it of "collaborating" with Israel and the United States. "The Egyptian authorities are ...increasing the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza by building the steel wall and closing the border crossings with Gaza," said Hamzah Mansour, a member of the Shura Council of the Islamic Action Front.
A number of prominent Muslim clerics issued edicts against the wall, while Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, voiced his objection to the wall. In January 2010, small protests against the wall were held outside the Egyptian embassies in Jordan and Lebanon.
In a Palestinian demonstration along the border, an Egyptian border guard was shot dead and 20 Palestinians were injured from Egyptian fire.
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