The Egyptian Government has begun an operation to literally destroy all homes and buildings along the Gaza border to eliminate the smuggling tunnels . This operation is in line with a counterinsurgency campaign established following a surge in attacks by militants through tunnels under the border with Gaza. These attacks have claimed the lives of 3,600 civilians, security personnel and militants (more than two-thirds of them the plans for the buffer zone were announced).

In 2013, Egypt troops began razing buildings within 1km (0.6 miles) of the Gaza border to create a buffer zone in a bid to completely eliminate the smuggling of weapons and militants via the clandestine tunnels.

The border before the demolition
Satellite image of the border before the demolition
Satellite image of the border one year later

According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Egyptian government has destroyed more than 3255 homes in the Sinai Peninsula along the Gaza border, which is clearly an act in violation of International and basic human rights. Also, Egyptian troops have reportedly begun flooding tunnels under the border.

These actions by the Egyptian government may seem harsh even inhumane as clearly violates international law irrespective of the fact that it has extraterritorial rights in the Sinai peninsula. The government has vehementy denied allegation of the Human Rights Watch. It says that the locals are in favour of the demolitions as it prevents insurgents from gaining access to Egypt via the tunnels. However the lack of compensation and housing has rendered some locals homeless. In addition some locals no longer have a reliable source of income as the farmlands they relied on are reduced to cinders.

The counterinsurgency campaign to level buildings by the Egyptian government may be a strategic approach to curb the influx of insurgents but there are some immediate implcations it would have to take into consideration.

@authors Benjamin Annan-Baidoo and Judah Lafia-King

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