(Beirut) – The Egyptian army has vastly expanded widespread destruction of homes, commercial buildings, and farms in the North Sinai governorate since February 9, 2018, as part of its military campaign against an affiliate of the Islamic State group there, Human Rights Watch said today. 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 destruction, much of which is likely unlawful, has extended well beyond two government-designated security buffer zones in the cities of al-Arish and Rafah. The army also demolished several homes in al-Arish, in what appears to have been retaliation against terrorism suspects, political dissidents, and their relatives.
“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 Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “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.”