The Governor of North Sinai Abdel-Fattah Harhoor has announced that the authorities intend to raze completely the city of Rafah along the borders between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. His announcement has been met with a deafening silence except for very few voices that condemned the decision. According to informed sources, 100 houses out of a total of 1,220 were evacuated last Thursday as part of the second phase of the operation aimed at setting up a buffer zone along the Gaza Strip.
A step by step measure
In interviews conducted by Arabi21, activists have given a variety of interpretations for the deafening silence in Egypt regarding what is going on in Rafah and Sinai. One of these interpretations suggests that in the beginning, the coup authorities did not openly announce their intention to raze the city of Rafah and that the measure took place gradually as of October 2014 until today. It began with the announcement that a half kilometre deep border strip was going to be created. This decision was implemented within hours. Houses were bombed and the people of Sinai were forced out of their homes. Then there was a decision to expand the border strip to the depth of one kilometre. And finally, there was the announcement by the Governor of Sinai three days ago that the entire city of Rafah would be razed to the ground completely, as activist Asmaa Al-Sayyid explains.
The media and the constant blaming of Gaza
Journalist Samya Mahmoud has said that “the media played a major role in paving the way for these measures by repeatedly claiming that Sinai was a hotbed for terrorism and takfiris. According to her, the media used the attack on soldiers as a pretext in order to accuse Gaza of responsibility and call on the coup leader to evacuate the border strip.
Hajar Faafat said: “This is not all. Throughout that period the media continued to deny the authenticity of any videos or pictures that illustrated the amount of suffering and the violations perpetrated against the people of Egyptian Rafah.”
Ali Ghanim, on the other hand, was content with reciting some poetry to highlight the dimensions of the catastrophe brought upon the people of Rafah on the Egyptian side:
We once had in our country a town called Rafah,
It was the home of beauty and tranquillity,
All a gift from the Almighty Allah,
Then came the oppressor who has been awful to his own religion,
He went on destroying its houses, extinguishing its lights and murdering its people,
He razed it to the ground as a favour to the Zionists,
Yet, his followers, barking like dogs, continue to justify his actions.
An easy bite for the Zionists
Ibrahim Al-Husayni said: “In this way the curtain is drawn. The only beneficiary from the Egyptian revolution has been the Zionist entity and for the Muslims there has been no solace.”
Shaymaa Said said: “Indeed, the main reason for razing Rafah to the ground is the desire to break the back of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza and offer it as an easy bite to the Zionists. This is the clearest evidence that Al-Sisi and the leaders of his army are all agents. However, through its resistance Gaza has proven it is not an easy bite but a thorn in the throat of the Zionists and their agents who will perish with the help of God.”
Is Israel now safe?
A number of activists shared the statement made by Professor of Political Science Seif Abdel-Fattah who said in a tweet: “The Egyptian authorities will completely raze Rafah to the ground to set up a buffer zone with Israel. Is Israel now safe? Is this Egyptian national security?”
Activists also shared the remarks made by Egyptian actor Khalid Abu Al-Naja in an interview conducted with him by the Huffington Post. He said: “I do not usually talk about politics at all but usually I talk about the people who live in unfair conditions. This is something I cannot keep quiet about. I began my interview with talking about the Egyptian families who were banished from their homes along the borders. I believe this to be a gross injustice. You just cannot do this. This is how it all started. I am not an expert in politics. If you were to ask me about the difference between Marx and any other person you would not get an answer from me.”
Submitting all the credential papers
The social network activists also shared the statement issued by Hatim Azzam, deputy leader of the Al-Wasat Party, who addressed the issue of the banishment of the people of Sinai saying: “This is the plan through which the military coup leader is seeking to appease the Israeli occupation by means of submitting all the possible credential papers to the Zionist entity and to the powers that support it, foremost among them is the United States. The purpose is to guarantee the support of these powers for the coup to remain in power.”
In his communique, Hatim Azzam noted that the razing of the city of Rafah is a major disaster, especially after the initiation of a third governorate, which is called “Central Sinai”. He explained that this is a prelude to marginalising the North Sinai Governorate, a measure that involves relinquishing one of the most important and strategic cities in North Sinai, Rafah, and perhaps the complete negligence of the entire North Sinai Governorate.
Sinai activist Misaad Abu Fajr, former member of the Committee of Fifty for amending the constitution, said that the deportation of the people of Sinai amounts to a declaration of war on the three biggest tribes in Sinai, which are – from south to north – Trabin, Swarkah and Irmailat.
In a previous Facebook blog he wrote: “Don’t think of it as a decision that will pass just like previous decisions. If now you come into Cairo having arrived from a region affected by terrorism and you are paying a price for it, next time you will enter Egypt having arrived from a war zone. Undoubtedly, you know well that the price then will be much bigger.”
Translated from Arabi21, 11 January, 2015