WHERE is the threat of UN investigators being sent in as they do EVERY time Israel retaliates against terrorists? Human Right Watch has accused the Egyptian army of unlawfully destroying thousands of homes, businesses and farmland in northern Sinai, as part of its campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS).
Al-Jazeera (h/t Maurice) Using satellite imagery and local testimony, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report on Tuesday that many lifelong residents of Sinai have been displaced as a result of at least 3,000 homes and commercial buildings being destroyed by the Egyptian military.
The army is waging a campaign in the area against a group affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
HWR also accused the Egyptian military of demolishing several homes in al-Arish, “in retaliation against terrorism suspects, political dissidents, and their relatives”.
Residents who have fallen victim to the recent round of demolitions told HRW that the army began demolishing houses and razing farms around the al-Arish airport, soon after President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced a five-kilometre airport buffer zone in January 2018.
While the Egyptian government maintains that its campaign has been successful in rooting out armed group members, Mohannad Sabry, expert on security and the Sinai Peninsula, and author of Sinai: Egypt’s Linchpin, Gaza’s Lifeline, Israel’s Nightmare, says the campaign has done little in that regard.
“The one solid accomplishment of the Egyptian army over the past four years is displacing close to 80 thousand people from more than 20 villages and the city of Rafah.
“Most of those people are literally thrown out of their homes, their farms and sources of living destroyed, and are left stranded with no help whatsoever, the majority of which are now living in clusters of plastic shacks on the outskirts of El-Arish and Bir El-Abd.”
Commenting on the report, Sabry said that the demolitions taking place in the Sinai were a crime against its people that have been taking place since 2014.
“The home demolitions in Sinai is a region-wide crime committed by the Egyptian army against its own people, a crime even the Israeli army did not commit over the course of 14 years of occupying the peninsula,” Sabry told Al Jazeera.
Between July 2013 and August 2015, Egyptian authorities destroyed around half of the town of Rafah, on the border with the Gaza Strip, evicting thousands of families, and demolishing at least 3,255 buildings, according to Human Rights Watch.