Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said on Tuesday that he had rejected an earlier plan to evacuate North Sinai of its residents to better combat Jihadists in the area. “Forty months ago, I received a plan to evacuate the entire North Sinai region to combat terrorism. My answer was ‘no,’ let the people live their lives and we will act like a surgeon who uses his scalpel to extract the tumor without harming the rest of the body”, the president said on Tuesday at the Presidential Leadership Program for youth. El-Sisi’s comments come as dozens of Christians have fled North Sinai over the past few days over attacks against Copts in the governorate. El-Sisi asserts that these latest attacks aim at spreading the idea that the state is failing to protect “a primary element” of the Egyptian nation. Last week, the Islamic State militant group called on its supporters to attack Christians across the country in a video where it claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a church in Cairo in December. Several days after the video was released, three Christians were murdered in El-Aris.