Egyptian military spokesperson Tamer El-Refaie denounced on Tuesday Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s latest report about the operations of the Egyptian armed forces in Sinai, which claimed that the army destroyed people’s homes and farms in North Sinai.
Al-Refaie said that HRW did not rely on reliable sources, saying that the military forces took legal procedures regarding establishing a buffer zone on the border around Al-Arish International Airport and compensating the residents of the region in accordance with presidential orders.
On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch issued a report titled: Egypt: Army Intensifies Sinai Home Demolitions. In the report, HRW stated, “the new destruction, including hundreds of hectares of farmland and at least 3,000 homes and commercial buildings, together with 600 buildings destroyed in January, is the largest since the army officially began evictions in 2014.”
The report said that the Egyptian army expanded widespread destruction of homes, commercial buildings, and farms in the governorate of North Sinai since the beginning of the extensive military operation Sinai 2018 on 9 February.
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said within the report that “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.”
Al-Refaie denied all of the information mentioned in the report, stressing that the state’s compensations for Sinai residents have reached EGP 900m.
Moreover, Margaret Azer, representative of the human rights committee in the Egyptian House of Representatives, denounced the data mentioned in the HRW report, accusing the international organisation of defaming Egypt’s national institutions. Azer described HRW as a “suspicious” organisation that regularly criticises Egypt’s institutions, particularly the army.
On 9 February, Egypt’s security forces launched the extensive military operation in Sinai, dubbed Sinai 2018. The operation includes naval, air, and infantry forces. It aims to target “dens and ammunition storages that are being used by terrorist elements,” according to a previous statement from the armed forces.