The Egyptian military’s campaign against Muslim insurgents in northern Sinai is harming thousands of civilians and risks turning more people against the government, Human Rights Watch said in a report yesterday.
The government has evicted 3,200 families over the past two years and razed hundreds of hectares of farmland and thousands of homes in its bid to destroy smuggling tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip with Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula, the rights group said.
“Destroying homes, neighborhoods and livelihoods is a textbook example of how to lose a counterinsurgency campaign,” Human Rights Watch director of the Middle East and North Africa Sarah Leah Whitson said.
“The Egyptian authorities provided residents with little or no warning of the evictions, no temporary housing, mostly inadequate compensation for their destroyed homes — none at all for their farmland,” the organization said in a statement.
The Egyptian government wants to create a buffer zone along its border with the Gaza Strip to destroy a cross-border network of tunnels. The government accuses Muslim militants of using smuggling tunnels to move between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Gaza, which is ruled by the militant group Hamas.
The remote territory is characterized by hardscrabble towns, desert and mountainous areas suitable for guerrilla operations. Some disaffected local Bedouin tribesmen in the region, which suffers from economic hardship, have turned to smuggling, organized crime and, in some cases, radical Islam.
The Egyptian government has been battling a long-running insurgency in the region, which escalated after the military ousted former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 amid massive protests against his rule and cracked down on radical Muslim groups.
A local Islamic State affiliate has been claiming responsibility for militant attacks in northern Sinai. While violence has largely been confined to the region, bombs have also hit other parts of the country, including Cairo.
Human Rights Watch said the US had trained the Egyptian military to use “sophisticated tunnel-detecting technology” to find and destroy tunnels and avoid wiping out entire neighborhoods.
The organization also said it received video footage showing a US-made M60 tank shelling a building to demolish it. It called on the US to access the area and make sure its weapons are not being used in violation of human rights.
As Egypt fights insurgents in northern Sinai, “it should do so in a way that does not arbitrarily harm civilians and violate their right to housing and their protections during forced evictions,” the organization said.
Northern Sinai has been largely closed off to media, and it is difficult to independently verify reports from the area.
Egypt’s military spokesman, Brigadier General Mohammed Samir, declined to comment on the Human Rights Watch report, referring questions to the government spokesman.
Government spokesman Hossam Qawish, Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid and presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef did not answer calls to their mobile phones seeking comment.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and