Egypt seeks a ceasefire in Gaza within days

Why are Egyptian warnings repeated about invading Palestinian Rafah?

Cairo has escalated its talk about the dangers of Israel carrying out a large-scale military operation in the Palestinian city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. On Friday, for the third day in a row, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi warned of what he described as the “extreme danger” of an invasion of the city. Meanwhile, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced approval of the plans for the Rafah operation, according to what was reported by Reuters.

Palestinian Rafah has become the last refuge for the residents of the Gaza Strip, as it is inhabited by approximately 1.5 Palestinians who have fled the scourge of the ongoing war since the seventh of last October.

Al-Sisi said, during a speech he delivered at the police academy headquarters, that “Egypt seeks the return of the displaced in the central and southern Gaza Strip to their places, with a very strong warning of the danger of invading Rafah… If the international community is serious, there is an opportunity to establish an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with its capital.” Jerusalem,” calling on the international community to “recognize the State of Palestine.”

The Egyptian President “strongly” denounced the killings and violence that have been ongoing for more than 5 months in Gaza, noting that “the number of Palestinian deaths in Gaza exceeded 30,000 dead, most of them women and children, in addition to the injury of more than 70,000 others.” He pointed out that “more than 60 percent of the Gaza Strip’s buildings, facilities and infrastructure have been destroyed, which requires huge amounts of money for reconstruction.”

Tents for displaced Palestinians in Rafah near the Egyptian border (archives – DPA)

He pointed out that “his country is seeking to bring the largest amount of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip,” warning of “the danger of obstructing it and using food as a weapon against innocent civilians in the Strip.” He said: “Thousands of tons of aid are needed on a daily basis to meet Gaza’s needs, to reduce the impact of famine, which Cairo has previously warned of.”

This is the third warning in a row from the Egyptian President, as he said, during his meeting with the Spanish Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albarez, on Thursday, that the invasion of Rafah could lead to “severe humanitarian consequences,” according to an official statement by the Egyptian presidential spokesman, Counselor Ahmed Fahmy.

Al-Sisi also said, during a joint press conference on Wednesday with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, that carrying out a ground military operation in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip “threatens the lives of more than 1.5 million displaced people who have taken refuge in the region.”

Egypt has warned, more than once, of the repercussions of Israel carrying out a military operation in the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, stressing that the consequences of this “will be dire,” and demanded the necessity of uniting all international and regional efforts to prevent the targeting of the Palestinian city of Rafah.

Egyptian Senator and strategic expert, Dr. Abdel Moneim Saeed, pointed out that “the danger of Israel’s invasion of the Palestinian city of Rafah lies in the resulting humanitarian tragedy for more than a million Palestinians who were displaced to the city in light of the war, which means more sick, hungry, and victims of women and children.” ». He told Asharq Al-Awsat, “If the invasion were to take place, it would constitute a severe moral burden on Egypt and the world.”

Smoke from an Israeli bombing over Khan Yunis on Thursday (Reuters)

He added, “Egypt’s repeated warnings against the invasion are consistent with its efforts to achieve a truce in the Gaza Strip, unify the West Bank and the Gaza Strip under the administration of the Palestinian Authority, and reach a two-state solution to achieve stability in the region.”

Saeed explained that “implementing a large-scale military operation in Rafah will expand the conflict in the region and increase its instability.” He continued: “The situation is very complex in light of the multiplicity of parties within the decision-making process, whether in Israel, Palestine, or even the United States, which leads to a lack of clarity in the vision regarding Tel Aviv’s plan towards Rafah.”

In turn, the director of the Egyptian Center for Strategic Thought and Studies, Brigadier General Khaled Okasha, explained that “the repeated Egyptian warnings regarding carrying out a large-scale military operation in Rafah are due to the humanitarian risks this poses, especially with international confirmations that the city has become the most densely populated.” .

Okasha told Asharq Al-Awsat, “Any reckless military action in Rafah will inflict heavy losses on the population, the consequences of which cannot be borne,” noting that “Egypt has warned many times about the invasion of Rafah, and considers it completely unacceptable.”

The latest Egyptian warnings coincide with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s confirmation of his intention to enter the city of Rafah. Netanyahu said, in a meeting with Israeli soldiers (Thursday), that “there is international pressure to prevent us from entering Rafah and completing the mission.”

He added, according to a statement issued by his office carried by the German News Agency, that he “rejects these pressures and will continue to do so.” Continuing: “We will enter Rafah, and we will complete the mission of eliminating Hamas brigades, we will restore security, and we will achieve a complete victory for the people and state of Israel.”

But Okasha suggested that “Israel will not carry out a large-scale military operation in Rafah.” He said, “Tel Aviv will not take this step, not to submit to the Egyptian side, but also to the presence of international and American pressure demanding that it not invade Rafah,” noting that “there are American statements that talk about supporting precise military action to pursue the leaders of the Hamas movement, and not a broad military operation.” ».

He added, “International positions and the opposition of parties inside Israel, in addition to the solid Egyptian position rejecting the invasion, all push in the direction of not implementing it.” He pointed out that “Israel’s threat of a military operation comes as pressure in the ongoing negotiations to complete the truce, but it will not implement its threat and will be content with limited operations in a way that ensures it will not be involved in human casualties.”

Humanitarian organizations and Arab countries have previously warned of the repercussions of the possible Israeli attack on the city of Rafah.

During the participation of the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, in the sixtieth session of the Munich Security Conference, in mid-February, he held several meetings with the aim of rejecting the continuation of the escalation in the Gaza Strip. Observers considered it an attempt “to mobilize international support to pre-empt Israeli movements towards Rafah.”

Regarding the fears raised by the Rafah invasion of pushing the Palestinians towards Sinai, Saeed said, “Displacement is rejected, whether at the level of Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, or several countries in the world.” He expressed his belief that “there will be no mass displacement either to Sinai or through the temporary seaport that is currently being constructed, because everyone does not want to repeat the Nakba scenario.”

Egypt and several Arab countries have previously announced more than once their rejection of the displacement of Palestinians inside or outside their lands, and they consider it “the liquidation of the issue.”

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