President Sisi blocks mass influx of Gaza refugees
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Wednesday said he would not allow any mass influx of refugees from Gaza into his nation, arguing that it would set a precedent for “the displacement of Palestinians from the West Bank into Jordan.”
Sisi met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz where he said Israel’s air strikes on the Rafah crossing, which is located between his nation and Gaza, led to the failure of aid delivery to the territory’s 2.4 million people.
The meeting between the two leaders came as Gaza faced a 12th straight day of ferocious Israeli bombardment in retaliation to a shock cross-border attack launched by Hamas on October 7 that killed at least 1,400 people, most of them civilians and foreign nationals.
About 3,000 people have been killed in Gaza, which is nearly out of electricity, food, water and fuel.
Read:Gaza disfigured by air strikes, siege
The Egyptian president said, “the displacement of Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt means the same displacement will take place for Palestinians from the West Bank into Jordan.”
“Subsequently, the Palestinian state that we are talking about, and that the world is talking about will become impossible to implement — because the land is there, but the people are not. Therefore, I warn of the danger of this matter,” Sisi added.
Pressure has mounted for aid to be allowed in through the Rafah crossing which is the only access to the besieged territory not controlled by Israel.
Read:Egypt receives humanitarian aid bound for Gaza
Sisi maintains that Egypt “did not close” the crossing, but that “developments on the ground and the repeated bombings by Israel of the Palestinian side of the crossing have prevented its operation”.
Hundreds of lorries carrying aid have been waiting for six days on the Egyptian side of the crossing, which Israeli aircraft has bombed four times.
Thenation became the first Arab state to make peace with Israel in 1979, following the Camp David accords of the previous year.
Sisi said the peace is at risk of disintegrating if there is a mass exodus of Gazans to Egypt’s neighbouring Sinai Peninsula that would risk turning it into “a new base for terrorist operations against Israel”.
“Israel would have the right to defend itself and its national security, and therefore direct strikes on Egyptian lands,” Sisi said.
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas echoed Sisi’s position.
Abbas said he displacement of Gazans to Egypt would amount to a “second Nakba” — when more than 760,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their lands during the war that accompanied Israel’s creation in 1948.
Read:Fears renewed of Palestinian exodus of 1948
Most of Gaza’s population are refugees from that exodus.
Egypt has repeatedly refused to accept what it calls the transfer of Israel’s responsibility as an occupying power, including to “provide for the safety of civilians” living under its occupation.
Dismissing comments by pundits about Sinai being a sparsely populated desert area, Sisi suggested Israel’s Negev Desert as an alternative refuge for Gazans.
“Palestinians could be moved there until Israel is finished with what it has declared is an operation to eliminate armed groups” from Gaza, the president said.
“And then it could return them if it wished,” he added.
Speaking to reporters after meeting Egypt’s president, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Berlin and Cairo “are working together to get humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip as quickly as possible.”
Scholz and Sisi warned against the threat of regional spillover, while the Egyptian president called for “immediate international intervention” to put a stop to “dangerous military escalation that may get out of control”.
The German authority said his nation sought to avoid a “conflagration in the Middle East” and warned Hezbollah and Iran “once again not to intervene in this conflict”.