A new video leaked from Sharm El-Sheikh, South Sinai, today depicts an elderly man lying on the sand on a blue cushion, clearly distressed. Behind him are the remnants of his house, which has just been demolished.
“Consider us Palestinians,” he tells an officer dressed in army fatigues who is bent over him, his face obscured from the camera. “This kind of thing only happens in Israel. It’s the only country that demolishes houses.”
“You treat us like terrorists, why are you planting the seed of terrorism in the hearts of our children?” he asks the officer. “Who’s the one perpetrating terrorism at the moment? You are the terrorist. The one who demolished my house for no reason is the terrorist.”
The video, which was filmed several days ago, cannot by independently verified but it appears to show the aftermath of a house demolition in Sinai where the Egyptian army has been waging a counterterror operation against the local Daesh affiliate that activists have said can more accurately be described as a war on civilians.
Towns and cities have been isolated from one another and schools, houses, hospitals and farms razed to the ground. People, food and other basic commodities have been restricted from going in and out. Internet and network connections have been cut, as has electricity and water.
Since the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in 2013 President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has tightened his grip on the Sinai Peninsula, declaring a state of emergency in the Northern Province. Human Rights Watch calculated that between July 2013 and August 2015 Egyptian authorities demolished at least 3,255 buildings along the border with Gaza and forcibly evicted thousands of people as part of a plan to secure a buffer zone with the Gaza Strip.
House demolitions increased in February this year following the launch of “Sinai 2018”, the military’s final push to restore security and stability to the area. Al-Sisi vowed to demolish and forcibly evict the residents of all farms and houses within five kilometres of Al-Arish airport to create another security buffer zone.
Residents have not been offered alternative accommodation or compensation.
Earlier this week a video was leaked from central Sinai in which a young boy wrapped in a white cloth pleads for his mother before a soldier shoots him in the head. Reserve army officer Mohammed Amer announced on Facebook that he killed the child before later deleting the tweet.
Human rights organisations and journalists are not allowed to enter Sinai without permission which has led to an information blackout on the atrocities taking place there.