A Central Security Forces conscript was killed in North Sinai following an exchange of fire with smugglers near the borders. The Ministry of Interior said the conscript, Rabea Gafaar, was shot dead when he ordered the smugglers to stop.
The activity and the identities of the smugglers remain unknown, with police forces intensifying their presence to capture the perpetrators. Smuggling, both of goods and people, is one of the major issues Egypt is facing in the restive Sinai Peninsula.
The Egyptian army has been intensifying its efforts to tighten security around the borders with Palestine.
The armed forces have recently resorted to flooding the tunnels leading to the Gaza Strip as a tactic to prevent the smuggling of people and goods.
Last month, the Egyptian cabinet issued a press statement demonstrating the measures taken within its comprehensive plan to combat terrorism in Sinai, specifically the triangle of Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid and Al-Arish in North Sinai.
The statement provides details regarding the aforementioned plan, listing the provision of “urgent humanitarian assistance”, compensations, and medical insurance to civilian residents as part of the state’s responsibilities “to alleviate the suffering of civilian residents” in the area.
Regarding the methods of combating terrorism in Sinai, the statement specified the “reliance on accurate intelligence before conducting any campaigns against terrorist strongholds” while implementing the plan.
It referred to the “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”.
Yet, conversely, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Egyptian military of conducting mass home demolitions and forced eviction of about 3,200 families in the Sinai Peninsula over the past two years, in violation of international law.
In its report, HRW documents the Egyptian government’s “failure to provide adequately for residents during and after the evictions in North Sinai”, accusing the military of destroying entire neighbourhoods and razing thousands of homes as part of the plan to eliminate the threat of smuggling tunnels.
On 7 September, the army launched operation “Retribution for the Martyr” to counter the ongoing insurgency in North Sinai. According to the military’s daily accounts of the operation, hundreds of “terrorist elements” have been killed, as well as a few security personnel. The military operation came as a part of the army’s plan to combat terrorism in Sinai, amid a surge in militant activity since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
In allegiance with “Islamic State”, “State of Sinai”, formerly known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for the majority of the attacks taking place in the area.