Thursday, 8 January 2015

Egypt to remove border city Rafah for buffer zone

The Egyptian authorities have decided to remove the city of Rafah on the borders with the Gaza Strip completely, says the governor of North Sinai district Abd al-Fattah Harhour.

In a news conference Wednesday, Harhour said it would be necessary to remove Rafah city completely in order to create a buffer zone on the borders with the Gaza Strip.

"A new Rafah city is being established with residential zones appropriate to the nature and traditions of the residents of Rafah."

He confirmed that engineering units have already been asked to start work on the new city.

The governor's remarks came ahead of the second stage of evacuation of Rafah houses in preparation to create a buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza. According to the original plan, 1,220 houses were slated for evacuation. more

Palestine shuts down as Storm Huda strikes the Holy Land

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Millions of Palestinians bunkered down at home Wednesday as they faced down the first day of huge winter storm that has brought a mixture of rain, hail, and snow accompanied by heavy winds crashing into the Holy Land this week.

Palestinian authorities on Wednesday afternoon announced that all official business would be closed Thursday because of the storm, which has been nicknamed "Huda" in Palestine and Jordan and "Zina" in Lebanon, and urged people to take safety measures in the coming days.

The storm is expected to last until Sunday, bringing snow in higher areas around Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Hebron in the occupied West Bank as well as in northern Israel, while flooding is expected along the coastal plain, including in the Gaza Strip.

Temperatures have dipped far below averages and are expected to hover around or just above freezing in the West Bank both day and night over the next week.

Palestinian authorities on Wednesday praised the role of civil defense units and medical centers until now, as they worked overtime to respond to emergencies and braced for the work to be done in the coming days.

Already in some areas across the region temporary electricity cuts have been reported, but many fear the worst is yet to come.

The worries are especially in the Gaza Strip, where widespread flooding only last month in a much smaller storm in December prompted the United Nations to declare a state of emergency. more