April 19, 2024

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War is “knocking on the door” of Egypt

War is “knocking on the door” of Egypt

Concrete walls, barbed wire, parts with new walls and steel barriers: the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip is about to become inaccessible. The work has already begun, and people in Egypt are anxious in anticipation of the announced Israeli attack on southern Gaza – right behind the wall, on their doorstep. With the advance of Israeli forces in Rafah, the war moved directly to Egyptian territory.

Fears are growing in Cairo that many of Rafah's 1.5 million Palestinians will try to cross the border into Egypt. Then, if Israeli bullets fall on Egyptian territory – even unintentionally – the peace treaty between the two countries, which has been in force since 1979, will be severely tested.

When the treaty was signed 45 years ago, after four bloody wars in the Middle East, it was the first time that an Arab country recognized Israel – which in turn had withdrawn from the Sinai Peninsula, which it had controlled in 1967. Despite the “cold peace” and although it prevailed To this day, in any case, the treaty between the two countries has led to a relatively stable rapprochement.

I decided to work in Rafah, Israel

Now the Israeli leadership has no intention of ending the war in Gaza and is determined to attack Rafah.

“It is impossible to achieve the war goal of eliminating Hamas while there are four of the organization’s battalions in Rafah,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on February 9, also announcing that he had ordered the army to begin planning the attack – including finding a way to launch an attack. Evacuation of 1.5 million civilians. The Israeli Prime Minister's announcement sparked strong international reactions.

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the consequences of such a development would be “catastrophic,” and French President Macron spoke of a “disaster of new dimensions,” while the American President spoke of a “disaster of new dimensions.” Joe Biden called for a “credible plan” to protect civilians. For his part, Netanyahu said last Saturday (February 17) that Israel will not surrender to pressure from the international community. “Anyone who wants to obstruct our work in Rafah tells us: ‘Lose the war.’”

The exceptional situation raises many questions

However, many questions remain open. How will all these people, including many wounded, sick and children, be transported? Where will those affected move? How will humanitarian assistance be provided to them wherever they go?

These are questions that also preoccupy Cairo. In Egypt, a neutral zone has reportedly been formed in which up to 100,000 people could be accommodated in buildings and tents – according to the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights and the Wall Street Journal, this zone will essentially be a huge Palestinian reception camp, which will be surrounded by a seven-meter-high fence. Meters.

But the head of the State Intelligence Service, Diaa Rashwan, denied these reports, explaining that the belt and the wall were built long before the war began. North Sinai Governor Mohamed Soussa explained that it is a “logistical support area” that facilitates the delivery of aid to Gaza by hosting warehouses, truck parking, and accommodation for drivers. As Souza also stressed, no “forced migration” of Palestinians to Egypt will be allowed.

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Is peace between Egypt and Israel threatened?

Reports in diplomatic circles indicate that Cairo has already warned that if Israel seeks in any way to push the Palestinians across the Sinai border, Egypt will consider such action a violation of the joint peace treaty – threatening to suspend the treaty. In fact, as it became known on Sunday (February 18), Egypt wants to bring Israel before the International Court of Justice, the highest court in the United Nations, on charges that its practices in the Palestinian territories violate international law.

Since October, there have been signs that the war might soon cross the border: Israeli fire hit an Egyptian position, and fragments of an Israeli tank shell slightly wounded some border guards. The Israeli military said it was a mistake and apologized, and Egypt later announced that Israeli warplanes had “bombed four times” the Rafah crossing.

Egypt and Israel have common interests

Another question concerns how much freedom of movement Israel will enjoy, without causing irreparable damage to its relations with Egypt. The two countries are believed to have confidence in security cooperation on the Gaza border and the Philadelphia Corridor – a narrow 14-kilometre strip of land on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, which since 2005 and the Israeli withdrawal has been controlled by about 750 Egyptians. border guards.

“Both countries have a long list of common interests,” wrote the Israeli think tank INSS. These include “the desire to weaken Hamas in Gaza and demilitarize the Strip,” as well as preventing the formation of a “terrorist nest” in the coastal region that would threaten both states.

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The Egyptian side hopes that Israel will similarly realize the importance of borders. As Egyptian Foreign Minister Samih Shoukry said during his visit to Ljubljana, “Egypt will respect the peace treaty reached more than 40 years ago, as long as Israel does the same.” Edited by: Giorgos Bassas

source: German wave