The Egyptian army has laid siege to the Sinai Peninsula in an effort to combat terrorism, but its actions are disrupting the lives of more than 250,000 residents.
REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Military forces are seen in northern Sinai, Egypt, Dec. 1, 2017.
The humanitarian crisis in the northern Sinai Peninsula is worsening as civilians fall victim to the violence and ongoing siege imposed by Egyptian army and security forces trying to purge the area of the Islamic State (IS) and affiliated terrorists.
Many of these victims worry the government’s actions will wind up actually helping the terrorists.
The government has been battling such groups there for years but upped its efforts in 2018, pledging to wrap up operations by the end of February. Yet the battles continue and civilians are suffering. The army-imposed siege enacted in February closed roads and water crossings that link northern Sinai to other Egyptian governorates. Not only is the siege restricting citizens’ movements, but it’s also blocking shipments of food, medicine and fuel to 250,000 residents in the cities of Sheikh Zuwaid, Rafah and el-Arish, Sinai’s capital and largest city.
Shops in el-Arish have run out of supplies, and pharmacies have almost run out of drugs. Cars have become a rare sight on the roads because of the lack of fuel, but military vehicles are heavily deployed in the streets.
“With the closure of roads and a ban on goods, the army, the city council and well-connected individuals are now controlling sales outlets. Goods are being sold irregularly at double prices and in small quantities that are not enough to meet the needs of citizens,” an el-Arish shopkeeper told Al-Monitor.
Although life in el-Arish has virtually come to a standstill, residents there are still better off than in the border towns of Sheikh Zuwaid and Rafah. While the situation in Sheikh Zuwaid, a town 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of el-Arish, is bad, conditions in Rafah are worse. According to Rafah locals, car traffic is restricted and the army is shooting at any moving vehicle. Residents are forced to use carts pulled by mules and camels for transportation, with the cart fares now 30 times the price before the siege.
Rafah resident Umm Attiyah, 60, walks six miles daily to buy bread for her children and grandchildren as she can’t afford a cart ride.
“It’s risky for men to go out to buy food as they might get arrested, so women are now in charge of looking after their families. My grandchildren have not eaten for three days. Over the last month, they have had only some bread soaked in chamomile and herbs. It’s difficult for me to provide milk and eggs,” she told Al-Monitor.
Another Rafah resident, Salmiyya, told Al-Monitor that Rafah and Sheikh Zuwaid used to be hubs for fruits, vegetables and “welfare for everyone.”
“The army has destroyed all the farms. We had a paradise-like garden where we grew guavas, oranges, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, watermelons and all sorts of vegetables. We had a farm with lots of livestock. Today we barely have a loaf of bread to feed our children,” she said. “Not only did they bulldoze our lands and demolish our houses, but they are denying us food and starving us.”
Salmiyya said she wants to tell the United Nations, “Please help us. My daughter-in-law is pregnant and is sick from malnutrition. If you don’t help us, we will become the victim of your silence. We’re against terrorism. All we ask for is a law that protects us and distinguishes us from the terrorists.”
In Sheikh Zuwaid, Ibtisam told Al-Monitor, “We stand for hours in long lines hoping that the army’s national service cars will arrive so we can buy some food. When soldiers show up they treat us very badly. If we start rushing and pushing in the lines to get food, the soldiers beat and curse us with the most hideous insults. Sometimes they shoot in the air above our heads.”
Sometimes they shoot elsewhere.
“Two children were shot dead by the army March 20,” Rafah resident Aouda told Al-Monitor. “The army was trying to break up a crowd of hundreds of civilians who showed up in al-Masoura village [south of Rafah] in the hopes of getting their hands on [bags] of flour that were distributed under the soldiers’ supervision.”
A local journalist who refused to be named for fear of reprisal told Al-Monitor, “The situation in northern Sinai is catastrophic. Citizens — especially young people — are losing any sources of income because of the siege and arbitrary measures.”
He added, “If the military’s plan to combat terrorism is designed to kill hopes and clamp down on people, spread unemployment and impose a media blackout, then it will only succeed in deteriorating the situation, spreading hate and further isolating Egypt. These practices actually serve terrorism only.”
Amr Magdi, a researcher at Human Rights Watch’s division for the Middle East and North Africa, told Al-Monitor that the army’s siege “has led to almost complete paralysis of civilian life … and a real food crisis.”
“The army must immediately provide an adequate food supply for citizens and allow local and international relief organizations to help the population to minimize damages. Should the siege continue in this way, this means the army is oblivious of the civilians in Sinai and is collectively punishing everyone with the military operations that are ostensibly targeting terrorists,” he said.
Magdi believes the army is taking advantage of the media blackout on Sinai, preventing any coverage of the violations against civilians.
“The siege should come to a halt. The cessation of violations against the people shouldn’t be motivated by fear of being exposed but rather [by] concern for the lives and security of civilians,” he concluded
Iraqi Shi’a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, May 17, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Alaa al-Marjani / File.
Shi’a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said on Saturday that Jews could return to Iraq if they “demonstrated loyalty,” the Hebrew news site Walla reported.
The 44-year-old Sadr heads the Saairun coalition, which won the most seats in the Iraqi parliamentary election last month.
His comment on Jews came in response to a question asked by a supporter, the Walla report said.
In the aftermath of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Sadr’s Mahdi Army targeted American troops.
Iran’s base in southern Syria, as photographed by satellite imagery, in October 2017. (Screenshot)
An Arabic news source reported on the ongoing negotiations between Israel and Russia concerning the Iranian military presence in Syria, stating that Russia has agreed to “a green light” for Israeli military strikes against Iranian military target.
Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman is currently in negotiations with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow concerning the Iranian military presence in Southern Syria. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin are also in telephone contact over the matter.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
“Paranoia predisposed him to believe in nefarious, hidden forces driving events,” the New York Times writes of Trump. “Political opportunism informed his promotion of conspiracy theories.”
But that could just as easily apply to the New York Times.
The Jewish community is in danger and so is the Free World as we know it. THE CONFLICT BEYOND ADVOCACY
The Jewish community is in danger and so is the Free World as we know it.
Reprinted from IsraelNationalNews.com.
Who would have believed that within certain communities, there could be more supporters of the radical Arab Palestinian agenda than supporters of the free, democratic and altruistic State of Israel. The relentless Arab Palestinian deceitful and well-organized propaganda, with the irrational support of many in the Western Media, may be a part of this transition.
The Democratic Party in the USA used to be a staunch supporter of the just cause of the State of Israel, but a recent Pew Research Center report showed a dangerous shift in this attitude. Within the more radical liberal branch of the Democratic party, about 38% will be anti-Israeli while the supporters of Israel will be only about 26%. When you look at the overall numbers as they relate to the Democratic party, you find that about 31% will be anti-Israeli and only 33% will be pro-Israel. On the other hand, within the Republican party, about 74% will be pro-Israel.
Yahya Sinwar, the leader of the Islamist Hamas movement in Gaza, speaks during a protest east of Khan Yunis, April 16, 2018.
Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ leader in Gaza, recently gave interviews to Al Jazeera and Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV, which is close to Hezbollah, to boast about his movement’s achievements in the wake of the recent border fence demonstrations and the Great Return March. In the interviews, on May 16 and 21, respectively, Sinwar also threatened that if Hamas is forced into another round of fighting with Israel, its Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades will have a few surprises in store for the “Zionist enemy
“The Israeli nation had been constructed as a sort of gateway by which the sparks of purity would shine upon the whole of the human race the world over.” The Arvut, Baal HaSulam
The Trump-Kim summit generated a renewed sense of hope along with questions about the future. Will we witness a new and peaceful North Korea? Will Trump’s deal-making skills become instrumental in promoting world peace? And specifically among Israel analysts: Will Trump be able to make a deal to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
On May 22, Susanna Maria Feldman went missing. It was the day after the Jewish holiday of Shavuot which celebrates G-d’s revelation of the Ten Commandments to Moses and a nation of freed slaves.
The fifth commandment is, “Honor thy father and mother.” The sixth is, “Thou shalt not murder.”
And in the German city of Mainz, whose Jewish community dates back to Roman times, a worried mother waited for the worst. Susanna had gone off with her friends. They came home. And she didn’t.
What can one learn from the controversy? Basically, that it is safer to be a member of Hamas than to be gay. Palestinian leaders would much rather see young Palestinians trying to kill Israelis than talk about gays in their own society. In the world of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, there is no room for comedy or satire.
On June 8, an estimated 250,000 people attended the Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv. Tourists from all around the world came to Israel to watch and participate in the event. The theme of this year’s event is “The Community Makes History” — a reference to the LGBT community in Israel.
Fifty one years have passed since the Six Day War, fifty one years during which Israel has advanced on every front, in economics, technology, its society (it switched from a socialist to a nationalist regime) and, most significantly, in its geo-political situation: Two Arab countries bordering Israel, Jordan and Egypt, signed peace treaties with the Jewish State, and a number of Arab states have relations with Israel behind the scenes. Israel is an honored member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its per capita GNP approaches $40,000 per annum.
The anti-Israel boycott is despicable. In the past, the Jews were boycotted by the unenlightened. Today, the unenlightened are not alone. They’re in a coalition with the pseudo-enlightened.
Jibril Rajoub, the man who announced that if he had an atom bomb he would drop it on Israel, won a huge victory, because the game against Argentina was supposed to be the jewel in the crown. It was supposed to join the Eurovision win in proving that Israel doesn’t have to give a damn about the rest of the world. But no, it does.
We must admit that Rajoub is not the only one who defeated Israel. Israel defeated itself. Because when you do things to spite other, you end up paying the price. And we’re paying it.