A day after expelling the civilian population from the area near the Gaza border, Egypt’s military junta followed through on its plan to level the entire neighborhood, part of a plan to build a “buffer zone” with the strip.
Gaza has long used tunnels into Sinai to smuggle in basic goods denied them by the Israeli blockade, and the Egyptian plan includes trenches full of water to drown anyone in those tunnels. It’s not the smuggling into Gaza they aim to stop, however.
Rather, junta officials are claiming Hamas and other Gaza factions are smuggling weapons out of the tiny strip to support the various Sinai militants that have been opposing them since last summer’s coup d’etat.
There’s no evidence to support this claim, and it seems extremely unlikely, as smuggling usually goes the other way with those tunnels, and Sinai was awash in arms long before this conflict.
Rather, the junta planned the Sinai crackdown concurrent with the coup itself, and with that crackdown going extremely poorly, are looking for a scapegoat to deflect international criticism of their operations.