Hundreds of residents of the Egyptian town of Rafah took to the streets on Sunday morning in protest at the army's intention to create a buffer zone along the border with the Gaza Strip. The plan will entail the destruction of houses and fields for up to 500 metres from the border fence.
Local media sources report that rallies were held at which tyres were burnt in open expressions of anger at the proposal. Hostile anti-army slogans were chanted while soldiers stood and watched. The residents called for international protection against the plan.
Army reinforcements have been sent to the area, including artillery units; helicopters have been seen flying overhead and snipers have been deployed on rooftops. Local mosques have issued calls for residents to take to the streets after householders were issued with demolition notices by the security forces.
Some sources say that the army has already started to create the buffer zone, but these have not been confirmed. Apart from houses and fields, the intention is to destroy the rest of the tunnels used by the people of Gaza and described as their "lifeline" to take essential goods into the besieged territory.