Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi took a swift and dramatic step in the struggle against militant activity in the Sinai this week, ordering that homes along Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip are to be completely demolished in an attempt to stunt further weapons trafficking. Residents of the affected areas were given just 48-hours notice to vacate their premises prior to the demolitions, but fear not Keith, they have been promised compensation for their relocation. The buffer zone is to extend 500 meters and will be installed with water-filled trenches as an added obstruction to stymie further underground tunneling between Gaza and Egypt.
This renewed effort to stem the flow of militants and weaponry through the Sinai comes on the heels of two major attacks on Egypt’s security services in the region, which left 33 Eygptian personnel dead. Al-Sisi’s government declared the Sinai to be in a three-month state of emergency after the attacks. The military crackdown in the Sinai is part of a larger trend of harsh measures being adopted by the state security apparatus. Al-Sisi recently decreed that several public facilities will now be under military jurisdiction, meaning that anyone who perpetrates violence against them will be tried in military, rather than civilian courts.