The Fact Egypt will Help Palestinians But Won’t Let Them In Speaks Volumes

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Egypt is taking measures to prevent a large-scale exodus from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai Peninsula, following Israeli airstrikes that have disrupted movement at the primary exit point from the Palestinian enclave, according to sources from Gaza and Egyptian security.

The Israeli offensive in Gaza has raised concerns in Egypt, which has called on Israel to ensure the safe passage of civilians out of the enclave rather than pushing them towards Sinai, report two Egyptian security sources.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt emphasized on Tuesday that the escalation in Gaza poses a “highly dangerous” situation, and that Egypt is actively seeking a negotiated resolution to the violence in collaboration with regional and international partners.

Sisi added that Egypt will not allow the matter to be resolved at the expense of others, indicating a concern that Palestinians might be compelled to seek refuge in Sinai.

The Rafah border crossing remained closed on Wednesday morning. Egyptian military aircraft conducted flights in the vicinity overnight, say security sources. Additionally, the military has deployed new positions near the border and initiated patrols to monitor the area, as reported by Ahmed Salem of the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights.

Rafah represents the sole potential crossing point into Sinai for Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants. The remainder of the densely populated strip is bordered by the sea and by Israel, which has declared a complete blockade of Gaza and has the potential for a ground offensive.

The movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza is rigorously regulated under a blockade enforced by both Egypt and Israel.

On Tuesday, the Israeli military altered a previous suggestion from one of its spokespersons that Palestinians fleeing the airstrikes in Gaza should head to Egypt.

Israel has unleashed its most intense strikes on Gaza in the 75-year history of its conflict with the Palestinians, following a lethal incursion into Israel by Hamas on Saturday.

Egypt, the first Arab nation to establish peace with Israel, has acted as a mediator between Israel and Palestinian factions in prior Gaza conflicts and has actively worked to prevent further escalation in the current hostilities.

The Interior Ministry of Gaza, under Hamas control, reported that bombardments on both Monday and Tuesday targeted an entry gate on the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing. The crossing was also shut from the Egyptian side, causing Palestinians intending to travel to Gaza to retreat to Al Arish, the main city in north Sinai, according to Egyptian sources.

On Monday, approximately 800 individuals left Gaza through the Rafah crossing, and around 500 people entered, although the passage of goods was restricted, according to the United Nations humanitarian office.

The governor of north Sinai met with local authorities on Monday to prepare for potential crises resulting from events in Gaza, as per his office. Ambulances in Sinai have been put on alert for potential evacuations from Gaza. Thus far, there have been no indications of large gatherings of Palestinians at the Rafah crossing, with only scheduled departures proceeding until Tuesday.

In 2008, tens of thousands of Palestinians crossed into Sinai after Hamas created openings in a border wall.

Security in the vicinity of Rafah is also a concern for Egypt, as Sinai experienced an Islamist insurgency a decade ago. Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip since 2007, shares the Islamist ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group banned in Egypt.

In recent years, Egypt’s military has largely reasserted control over northern Sinai, facing sporadic attacks in the region.

If Egypt — which is Islamic — will not allow the Palestinians in its country, it should be no surprise that Israel wants as much distance as possible from them. Also, it appears Israel is at a breaking point and seems very committed to wiping Hamas “off the face of the earth” (their own government’s words). It will be impossible to achieve the elimination of Hamas without a huge human tragedy on the rest of the Gaza population.

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