As anti-government protests erupted across Egypt for the second week in a row on Friday, the Egyptian military retaliated to a terror attack in North Sinai by killing a six-year old and his father.
The Egyptian government has waged a war on the local Daesh affiliate in Sinai for the last seven years that locals say is vastly disproportionate and is actually a war on civilians aimed at forcibly removing them from their land.
Locals are regularly disappeared, extrajudicially killed, hit with indiscriminate bullets and live under a severe blackout as journalists and human rights workers are not allowed to enter the peninsula.
According to Eid Marzouky, an exiled journalist originally from Bir Al-Abed who works for Al Jazeera, a green pickup truck carrying four militants approached the Toffaha military checkpoint in Bir Al-Abed on Friday, and opened fire on the soldiers manning the checkpoint.
The Interior Ministry says Daesh killed at least 15 soldiers and critically wounded two. A five-year-old boy who was passing the checkpoint with his mother was also killed in the attack.
According to Marzouky, in the aftermath locals from Bir Al-Abed drove eight kilometres to inform the military that the attack had taken place and donated their blood to the victims.
However, two hours later the army launched a “revenge” attack on the city, raiding homes and arresting people.
Suleyman Abu Dabbous, who works in a petrol station, was on his way home with his son Karim, 24, and his six-year-old grandson when the army opened fire on the car. Karim and his son were killed and Suleyman is being treated for critical injuries in Ismailia Hospital.
“They are the only ones we know about,” Sinai writer Massaad Abu Fager told MEMO.
The army did not acknowledge their deaths and instead released an official statement to say they had killed “terrorist elements”, 15 fighters, in a shootout at a farm in North Sinai.
In the city authorities limited the share of petrol to ten litres per person a week, allegedly to stop the flow to Daesh. However, for a fishing and farming community this restriction will severely impede their ability to continue with their livelihoods.
After Marzouky shared the news Egyptian authorities went to his home in Bir Al-Abed and tried to arrest his brother. “The authorities killed one of Eid’s brother’s before to silence Eid but they couldn’t silence him, says Abu Fager.
According to Abu Fager, Egyptian authorities have been trying to forcibly remove the people of Bir Al-Abed for several months now as part of its systematic policy to rid the peninsula of locals:
“For three months they asked the people of Bir Al-Abed to leave the city, then the army came and asked the people for volunteers to fight terrorism but they told him no we are peaceful we are just fishermen and farmers we can’t fight, it’s your responsibility.”
Locals fear it will become the next Rafah, a city along the border with Gaza that has been completely flattened by authorities who say they need a buffer zone with the Strip. Between 70 and 100,000 people have been displaced.
In 2014 Daesh attacked the Karim El-Kawadis checkpoint in Rafah, which authorities used as a pretext to displace people from Rafah and nearby Sheikh Zuweid.