Egypt's atrocities revealed in Sinai
Nearly 700 people were extrajudicially killed, and more than 1,400 arrested, over the winter in Egypt's northern Sinai province, it has emerged.
More than a thousand Bedouin homes were also razed to the ground, according to the Egyptian Observatory for Rights and Freedom (EORF), which on Monday called on the Egyptian government to end the crimes being committed by the Egyptian army in the restive province.
Cairo has been clearing a "buffer zone" along its border with the Gaza Strip, ostensibly in a bid to combat armed groups operating in the Sinai province - but also as a way to clamp down on smuggling in and out of the Palestinian enclave and undermine its Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Hamas leadership.
The Observatory also condemned the media blackout imposed by the Egyptian authorities regarding the events in Sinai, warning a civil war could be on the way.
In a report released on Monday, Results of Sinai's State of Emergency, EORF documented the Egyptian army's alleged human rights violations committed between 25 October 2014 and 25 January 2015 under the state of emergency.
They included 681 cases of extrajudicial killing and the arrest of 1,482 Sinai residents, as well as the arrest of 2,667 others on suspicion.
In addition, the security forces burned 1,740 Bedouin huts and at least 1,837 civilian vehicles (including 566 cars and 1,271 motorbikes).
According to the report, 2,084 houses were destroyed, leading to the displacement of 3,056 families - 21,392 people of all ages.
As of 25 January 2015, the area destroyed along the border with Gaza was 1,000 metres deep and 13.5km wide.
"The security authorities went ahead with the evacuation process, completely ignoring the basic safeguards stipulated by international law, including consultations with the residents and allowing them enough time to evacuate, as well as compensating them for their losses and offering alternative accommodation for those who cannot provide for themselves. This made the evacuations illegal," read the report.
"The plans to expand the width of the buffer zone by another 500 metres raised concerns about the increase of forced evacuations over the next few months."
The report concluded that the state of emergency brought about more security problems than it resolved and further complicated the crisis on the peninsula. Its imposition was clearly based on political reasons that only increased violence in Sinai, said the report.
EORF is an independent non-governmental body that monitors and documents human rights violations in Egypt, in cooperation with local and international organisations.