BY: Haitham Ghoneim*
On December 6, 2016, the Egyptian Defense Ministry posted a video on its official YouTube account showing what it called the return of normal life to the area of Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai, through the following link: https://goo.gl/r3uLZD
The video of the Egyptian Defense Ministry is talking about the successes of the Egyptian army and local security forces in controlling and eliminating the “terrorist activity” zones. The video shows what they called the start of the gradual return of aspects of life to Sheikh Zuweid city and its adjacent regions, amid feelings of joy and hope permeating the population, and members of the armed forces participating and distributing thousands of food packages to citizens.
The video highlights what the media machine of the Egyptian military regime wants to focus on, namely that it protects the country, keeps the rule of law, cares for citizens, and defends them. However, under military regimes, we have always learned that there is another story that is more credible behind the camera.
So, I will narrate in the next lines what you have not seen in the story (of the video).
Let me first quote the following introductory sentence from the video: [The Egyptian army troops and the local security forces succeeded in controlling and eliminating the “terrorist activity” zones in northern Sinai.]
Let me then show you few examples of those who have been controlled and eliminated in the “terrorist activity” zones:
Look at the image of this child. His name is Yousuf Mansour Abu Mannouna. He is 12 years old, and belongs to the Sawarka tribe.
Abu Mannouna was shot dead on September 29, 2016, by the Egyptian army troops at Al-Mahager checkpoint, south of El-Arish Ccity, when the army opened fire on the homes of civilians.
Here are more examples on killings to let you know that the killing of this child ‘Yousuf’ was not an individual case:
- On September 2, 2016:a) Citizen / Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel-Fattah, 65 years, received two bullets in his right arm and left foot when the forces of Al-Risa military checkpoint opened fire indiscriminately.b) A home was bombed and destroyed South of Sheikh Zuweid city, wounding four citizens: Fat’hi Mazid Suleiman 25 years, Mustapha Ismail Saleh 19 years, Bakar Ismail Suleiman 17 years, and Noureddin Suleiman Ismail, 15 years.
c) Child / Ali Mousa Mohamed, 12 years, was shot in the foot in the city of Rafah.
- On September 6, 2016:a) Citizen / Abd Rabbo Abdel Jaber Abdel Kader, 50 years, was shot by the army while he was on his way to work in the city of Rafah.b) Child / Abdulrahman Khairy, six years, was shot by the forces of Zourob checkpoint in Rafah.
- On September 7, 2016: a home was shelled south of Sheikh Zuwaid city, which resulted in killing two brothers: Naif Nasser Mansour, 26 years, and Salameh Nasser Mansour, 40 years.
- On September 8, 2016: a home was bombed by artillery in the Tawil region, south of Sheikh Zuweid city, killing: Citizen / Diab Rifai Ali, 65 years.
- On September 17, 2016:a) A home in the village of Al-sadot in Rafah was shelled, wounding two children: Huzaifa Mohamed Mustafa, 3 years, sustained multiple shrapnel in the right leg.b) Mohamed Mustafa Ayoub, 5 years, sustained multiple shrapnel to the face, chest and back).
- On November 2, 2016:a) Ms. / Hindeyah Massad Salem, 28 years, was shot dead (in the head) by the army in the Al-Matallah region, south of Rafah city.b) Lawyer: Fat’hi Ragab Ali Al- Alaqmi, 35 years, was shot by the forces of the Administrative Prosecution checkpoint.
- On November 4, 2016:a) Ms. / Hanan Samir Sidki Shahat, 35 years, was shot dead (in the head) by the security forces in Gisr al-Wadi (Valley Bridge) area, El-Arish.b) Mr. / Hassan Massad Oudah, 55 years, was shot by the army troops near the Al-Midan (square) checkpoint, west of El Arish.
- On November 6, 2016: Al-Rasm district in Rafah was exposed to random shelling, resulting in the destruction of a home and the killing of Gihad Goudah Khalaf, 17 years, and wounding three persons: Hani Goudah Khalaf, 18 years, Salem Saber Salem, 22 years, and Marei Ahmed Suleiman, 17 years.
- On November 7, 2015, a home was shelled in Shabana area, south of Rafah, killing
Ms. / Zeinab Salman Hassan, 27 years.
- On November 8, 2016, artillery shelling by the Egyptian army forces targeted the Al-Ma’neyeh village, south of Sheikh Zuweid city, North Sinai Governorate, wounding Nadia Awad Oudeh, 40 years, Zamzam Fayez Abed, 15 years, and Judy Fayez Abed, 3 years.
These are just examples for: [controlling and eliminating the “terrorist activity” zones] in northern Sinai regions.
The video also talks about “the gradual return of the aspects of life to Sheikh Zuweid city and its adjacent regions”. So, let me take you on a tour through images in these regions, where the army allowed the return of civilians who were forcibly displaced. Also, notice how the army returned the aspects of life to the city of Sheikh Zuweid and its nearby villages. Look at the aspects of life in Tarabin district in Sheikh Zuweid:
The video also talks about “the feelings of joy and hope that permeated the people”. Perhaps this image shows those feelings after the return of one of the families to their wrecked house:
Did you see the flags of Egypt on the cars of the Sinai people while they were returning in the video of the Egyptian Ministry of Defense? Well, let me show you another scene that was prior to this scene, showing the escape of civilians waving white flags on their cars to avoid the bombing of the Egyptian army forces, as in this image, which was taken at the beginning of November, 2016:
The video concludes, saying: “The armed forces distributed thousands of food packages among citizens.” However, there is another scene – behind the camera – of razing olive trees and farms of citizens, causing the deterioration of their living conditions:
Do you want to know what is happening in the north of the Sinai?
This is very little to show in an area where the Egyptian military regime alleges that the army weapons are only directed against the militants. In fact, they are planting hatred that is watered by the blood of innocent civilians.
Although the Egyptian regime is keen on hiding reports about the crimes that they are committing in northern Sinai, yet we will continue documenting these crimes that are committed against children and women there.
* Haitham Ghoneim is an Egyptian researcher and human rights activist.
(Written exclusively for MEO on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, and translated from Arabic)