Egypt’s army has drastically stepped up its demolitions of homes, businesses and farms in the Sinai since launching a widespread campaign against militants in February, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.
The watchdog said it documented at least 3,000 homes and commercial properties destroyed in the peninsula, where Egypt has battled a long-running jihadist insurgency, as well as 600 razed just before the latest military operation.
“Turning people’s homes into rubble is part of the same self-defeating security plan that has restricted food and movement to inflict pain on Sinai residents,” said HRW’s Middle East director, Sarah Leah Whitson. “The Egyptian army claims it is protecting people from militants, but it’s absurd to think that destroying homes and displacing lifelong residents would make them safer.”
Photos for number of houses & residential buildings in Arish city, that have been removed by the security forces bec. it belonged to people who are security wanted as they involved in several terrorist attacks against army & police forces. #Sinai #Sinai2018 pic.twitter.com/JNaGgFnayO
— Mahmoud Gamal (@mahmouedgamal44) May 12, 2018
The New York-based group said the demolitions and forced evictions, near the border with the Gaza Strip in northern Sinai, was making an already perilous humanitarian situation worse.
It said it sent letters to the defence ministry and the local governor over the demolitions but had yet to receive a response.
An army spokesman declined to comment on the HRW report when contacted by AFP.
Around 200 jihadists and at least 33 soldiers have been killed since the military launched its operation against the Islamic State group in February, according to official figures.