As Egypt commemorated Sinai Liberation Day on Saturday, the government was quick to highlight that it is spending 600 billion Egyptian pounds ($38 billion) on the development of the Sinai Peninsula, claiming it will be completed this year.
However, the head of Egypt’s Armed Forces Engineering Authority, Major General Ehab Mohammed El Far, said: “So far, a sum of 300 billion Egyptian pounds [$19 billion] has been allocated to development projects in Sinai,” adding that Sinai accounts for 25 per cent of funds allocated for development in Egypt.
In his speech, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi called for people to check the Sinai development projects on the presidency’s website, but no such site exists; the country’s State Information Service, a government information agency, is the only such site but much of the website does not load and tabs do not open.
In light of the extension of the state of emergency and the imposition of the curfew, the Egyptian authorities prevent the presence or movement of any journalist, television reporter or human rights observer in the north of the Sinai Peninsula, and even prevent the media from talking to its residents or accessing the real numbers of those detained, killed and displaced civilians, according to local and international human rights organisations.
The former head of Sinai’s Conflict Resolution Committee, Dr. Hossam Fawzy Gabr, believes: “Looking at Sinai’s situation from 1952 to the present day, one can figure out that everything said about the development of Sinai is only used for media promotion and for inflaming emotions with passionate words about development, while in reality, it is nothing but empty rhetoric that does not reflect a tangible reality. “
With regard to the building of some houses in rural areas at a cost of about three million Egyptian pounds ($0.19 million) each, Gabr stressed: “This is an outright lie, as this building cannot cost up to a quarter of this number, and this statement in total is just for promotional purposes while the government pursues a scorched-earth police.”
Gabr further stressed that “Al-Sisi’s scorched-earth policy includes forcibly displacing the residents of Sinai, the demolition of houses on the border strip in Rafah, including my home in the capital, Al-Arish, the arrest and several ways of torture of opponents of the regime and their relatives, in addition to the imposition of a state of emergency and curfews, intentional killing, enforced disappearance of thousands of Sinai residents, and the creation of dozens of security ambushes.”