The Foreign Ministry has stated that the government protects civilians from ongoing military operations in North Sinai, including providing them with comprehensive health insurance. The statement affirmed the people of Sinai’s “full cooperation with authorities to restore peace in the area.”
The statement, which was issued on Tuesday and echoes a statement issued by the Cabinet the previous day, asserts that the government is determined to ensure residents’ security during military operations. It reaffirms the government’s “commitment to the principle of not opening fire on a potential threat unless the source of the threat imminently threatens security forces, while taking into account the principles of necessity and proportionality.”
The Armed Forces’ commitment to this principle, however, was questioned last week when a group of 12 civilians, including eight Mexican tourists, were mistakenly air bombed and killed by military forces in the Western Desert.
A statement by Human Rights Watch, issued on Tuesday, also accused the Egyptian government of not meeting international requirements for engagement in its large-scale demolitions and evictions taking place in the border city of Rafah.
HRW blamed the Egyptian government for a number of violations regarding the plan to create a buffer zone on the border with Gaza, arguing that there was no proper consultation or notification for evicted civilians, as well as unfair compensation and coerced concession of property, lack of temporary housing and inadequate assistance, no compensation for lost incomes, and the interruption of children’s education in the process.
However, the ministry’s statement asserted that the government has carried out polls to determine the preferred method of compensation for those affected by the evictions, and has safely transported residents away from the area of conflict.
The statement also claimed that the government provides all strategic goods to the residents of the area and maintains all services including electricity, water and communications, despite the continued threat of terrorism.
North Sinai residents, however, have continued to lament the scarcity of gas and other strategic goods in the peninsula, reporting that they also suffer from frequent communication black outs, as well as power and water cuts that last for weeks at a time. Residents have also said that the military’s operations often kill innocent civilians and destroy their houses.
The statement asserted that the latest military operation in the area, Operation Martyr’s Rights, which began on September 7, aims to uproot terrorism in Sinai and to initiate development in the peninsula. The military’s latest tally, released yesterday, claimed that the operation has led to the death of 526 terrorists and the arrest of 617 suspects since it began.