In this July 5, 2013 file photo, Palestinian Hamas security guards stand near an Egyptian watch tower on the border with Egypt in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa, File)
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The Egyptian army is bulldozing homes and olive groves to build a buffer zone around the airport in its troubled North Sinai Province, where Daesh (ISIS) militants targeted the defense and interior ministers in December. The operation will displace thousands, according to local residents who have been told they will be removed from at least a dozen hamlets around Al-Arish airport.The main airport in the region, the Al-Arish facility, has been closed to the public for more than three years, but is used when high-ranking officials travel to North Sinai.President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi ordered the creation of the zone outside the airport walls two weeks ago, and it is unclear if it will eventually contain fences or other obstacles.The buffer zone will destroy dozens of hamlets around the airport, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes for an unknown future, sparking some protest by residents despite the government promises of compensation.Those orders came after a Nov. 24 attack on a mosque in northern Sinai killed more than 300 worshippers – the deadliest such attack against civilians by extremists in Egypt's modern history.
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