Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has expressed his opposition to the forced displacement of Palestinians into Sinai, stating that such a move would turn the Sinai Peninsula into a base for attacks against Israel.
A White House spokesman announced that about 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid would enter Gaza from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in the coming days. The road needs repairs before more trucks can follow. The Egyptian presidency agreed that aid should be provided in a “sustainable manner”.
Egypt is attempting to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza via the Rafah crossing, but aid has been accumulating on the Egyptian side due to Israeli bombardments. Sisi emphasized that the Gaza Strip is under Israeli control, and Palestinians could be moved to Israel’s Negev desert until militants are dealt with. The border between Sinai and the Gaza Strip is the only crossing from Palestinian territory not controlled by Israel.
Egypt rejects military means or forced displacement of Palestinians from their land, stating that it would be detrimental to the region’s countries. The Egyptian people are willing to protest against any displacement of Gaza’s residents to Sinai. Hamas official Osama Hamdan called for support for this position, as it represents protection for the Palestinian people.
Egypt is concerned about insecurity near its border with Gaza in northeastern Sinai, where an Islamist insurgency intensified a decade ago. Any transfer of Palestinians to Sinai would move the idea of resistance from the Gaza Strip to Sinai, making Sinai a base for launching operations against Israel.
Jordan, which shares a border with the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has also warned against Palestinians being forced off their land. Aid delivery into Sinai is expected to involve the evacuation of some foreign passport holders from Gaza, which Egyptian officials have conditioned on aid getting in.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has confirmed that Israel will not block aid for civilians entering Gaza from Egypt, following talks with Biden. Although Israel has named locations in Gaza for aid, it has not specified a safe time for the border crossing to begin operating. The recent blast at a Gaza hospital killed hundreds of people, and Israeli and Palestinian officials blamed each other for the deaths.
Arab leaders, including Sisi, pulled out of a planned meeting with Biden in protest over the blast and Washington’s pro-Israel bias. Hundreds of Egyptians are protesting in Cairo and other cities, chanting “Open the crossing!”