An Egyptian soldier keeps guard during a military operation in the Egyptian city of Rafah, near the border with the southern Gaza Strip October 30, 2014. (Photo:Reuters)
Egypt has the right to use a buffer zone along its borders with Gaza to boost security, but should also be concerned about the impact on local communities, the United States said Thursday.
"Certainly we believe that Egypt has the right to take steps to maintain their own security. And we understand the threat that they are facing from the Sinai," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
"We also continue to encourage them to take into account those that would be internally displaced by this," she added.
Egypt began demolishing houses along its border with Gaza on Wednesday to set up a buffer zone to prevent militants sneaking into the Sinai desert, and to curb arms smuggling following a wave of deadly attacks.
The move, which will see about 800 homes razed, comes after a suicide bomber killed 30 soldiers on the Sinai Peninsula, which borders the Palestinian territory, last Friday.
Washington has long insisted that Egypt is a key ally in the regional fight against jihadists.
Despite cutting off some aid to Cairo last year amid concerns about human rights abuses , it has now released Apache helicopters specifically to be used to help secure the Sinai.
"They're working through the plan and we're continuing to support their efforts to take steps to defend their own borders," Psaki told reporters.
The Egyptian army has been facing a decade-long jihadist militant insurgency in Sinai, with militant attacks increasing over the past year and expanding into Cairo and the Nile Delta, killing hundreds of army and police personnel.
Civilians have also been caught up in the violence.
Edited by Ahram Online