Egypt has been in a difficult position for the past few weeks over the opening of the Rafah gate into Gaza. On the one hand, Egypt wants to assist the most badly injured Palestinians in fleeing the territory, but on the other hand, Egypt vehemently refuses to consider allowing a flood of Palestinian refugees into the Sinai peninsula.
Earlier this week, Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly made the following statement: “We are prepared to sacrifice millions of lives to ensure that no one encroaches upon our territory.” “We are prepared to sacrifice lives to ensure that no one encroaches upon our territory.”
The delivery of aid from Egypt into Gaza through the same crossing has been intricately related to the negotiations that are taking place over the release of wounded Palestinians and some foreign nationals. These negotiations are mostly being supervised by Qatar. The Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, was responsible for negotiating a passage for aid through Rafah; nonetheless, the numbers are low in comparison to what is required. Kerem Shalom is a crossing that Israel controls at the southernmost part of Gaza. for Wednesday, the UN humanitarian coordinator, Martin Griffiths, appealed once more for Israel to reopen Kerem Shalom.
Since the Israeli bombardment began in reaction to the murderous Hamas rampage that took place on October 7, some people have criticized Egypt and its authoritarian president, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, for not opening their borders to Palestinians. El-Sisi is known for being a strongman.
At the peace summit in Cairo on the 21st of October, Sisi stated that the international community must never tolerate the use of human misery to coerce people into fleeing their homes. “Egypt has affirmed, and is reiterating, its vehement rejection of the forced displacement of the Palestinians and their transfer to Egyptian lands in Sinai,” he stated. “This will mark the last gasp in the liquidation of the Palestinian cause, shatter the dream of an independent Palestinian state, and squander the struggle of the Palestinian people and that of the Arab and Islamic peoples over the course of the Palestinian cause that has endured for 75 years,” he continued. ”
Leaks from within the Israeli government, in the form of a concept paper published by the intelligence ministry last month, show that one of Israel’s intentions has actually been to expel tens of thousands of Palestinians into the Sinai on what is intended to be a temporary basis. Palestinians are terrified of a reoccurrence of what they call the Nakba, which literally translates to “catastrophe.” This refers to the 1948 deportation of 700,000 Palestinians following the establishment of Israel.
It would appear that Egypt does not want to go through the same difficulties as its neighbors Jordan and Lebanon, which have been hosting Palestinian refugees for many years. Sisi believes that allowing up to one million Palestinians to live in camps within his country would be taking a political risk that is not worth taking.
Some of the pro-Palestinian demonstrations that he has authorized have already appropriated the slogans and symbols of the Arab spring movement that took place in Egypt on January 25, 2011. For example, they have chanted “bread, freedom, and social justice.” It is imperative that Sisi capitalize on the current climate of support for the Palestinian cause.
Sisi is easily startled, even by analogies to a major migration. After publishing a report on what it claimed were plans for the relocation of Gaza’s Palestinians to Sinai, the news source Mada Masr, which is based in Cairo, was given a six-month suspension and transferred to the prosecutor-general for investigation.
Rafah was opened on Wednesday to allow the evacuation of dozens of injured Palestinians and hundreds of foreign passport holders; however, no one is sure how much longer this situation will persist. In addition, the procedure for choosing who will be allowed to depart, which is being negotiated between Israel and Egypt in Qatar, is not transparent. It appears that national embassies can campaign for their people to cross the border, but they do not have a role in the matter.
Sisi has amassed a large number of tanks on the Egyptian side of the border in order to avoid an incident like this from taking place. Egypt’s primary concern is that the current trickle will turn into an avalanche.
Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State for the United States, is scheduled to arrive in the region on Friday, and it is clear that he has high hopes that the orderly flow of foreign nationals leaving Gaza will continue. He also hopes that this will lead to the release of additional hostages, increased flows of aid, and possibly even a humanitarian pause, which would create a virtuous diplomatic circle.
The United Nations announced on Tuesday that 59 trucks carrying water, food, and medications had entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing. This was the largest convoy since the delivery of relief had began on October 21st, bringing the total number of trucks to 217. The goal for the end of the week is to reach 100 trucks per day in production.
The fact that the regular flow was between 500 and 800 trucks every day before Israel implemented its embargo demonstrates how severe the humanitarian crisis is still.
Additionally, Israeli officials have begun tweeting about the humanitarian supplies that is entering Gaza, with the intent that these tweets will be read internationally. The entry of fuel, which is required to operate life-saving equipment, is still prohibited; but, Israel is currently delivering water through an existing conduit in the territory.
Blinken explained to Israel in an article that was published in the Washington Post this week that it would be in Israel’s own security self-interest to allow Egypt to send more aid into Gaza. The essay was directed toward Israel. He commented that “providing immediate aid and protection for Palestinian civilians in the conflict is also a necessary foundation for finding partners in Gaza who have a different vision for the future than Hamas – and who are willing to help make it real.” This was in reference to the conflict that was taking place at the time. We won’t be able to find those partners if they are preoccupied with a humanitarian emergency and put off by what they perceive to be our apathy to their predicament.