CAIRO, Oct 18 (Reuters) – President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Wednesday that millions of Egyptians would reject the forced relocation of Palestinians to the Sinai Peninsula, adding that such a move would He added that the peninsula would be turned into a base for attacks against Israel.
The Gaza Strip is effectively under Israeli control and Palestinians could instead be deported to Israel’s Negev desert “until the insurgents are dealt with,” Sisi told Germany’s Olaf Scholz in Cairo. He made this statement at a joint press conference with the Prime Minister.
The border between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip is the only border crossing from Palestinian territory not under Israeli control.
Israel’s unprecedented shelling and siege of Gaza aimed at wiping out Hamas militants has raised fears that 2.3 million residents could be forced south into the Sinai Peninsula.
“What is happening now in Gaza is an attempt to force the civilian population to accept refugees and move to Egypt, and it should not be accepted,” Sisi said.
“Egypt rejects any attempt to force the Palestinians from their land or to resolve the Palestinian issue by military means at the expense of regional countries,” he said.
Sisi said Egyptians “will come out in their millions to protest if asked” the forced relocation of Gaza residents to Sinai.
Osama Hamdan, a Hamas official, addressed Egypt’s position at a Beirut press conference, calling on “to rally around this position and support it at the level of the people and Arab officials, because this… Because it means real protection for the Palestinian people.”
Egypt is concerned about the deteriorating security situation near its border with the Gaza Strip in northeastern Sinai Peninsula, where an Islamic insurgency escalated a decade ago.
The transfer of Palestinians to Sinai “means transferring the concept of resistance and fighting from the Gaza Strip to Sinai, so that Sinai becomes a base for launching operations against Israel,” Sisi said.
Jordan, which borders the Israeli-occupied West Bank and absorbs most of the Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes after the establishment of Israel, has also warned that Palestinians are being forced from their land. There is.
Egypt is trying to direct humanitarian relief supplies to Gaza through Rafah, but aid is piling up on the Egyptian side because the Egyptians say Israeli shelling has made the crossing impossible.
On Wednesday, after a meeting with US President Joe Biden, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Israel would allow aid to Gaza unless there was a settlement with Hamas.
Two Egyptian security officials said Israel remained adamant but late Wednesday designated locations in the Gaza Strip to which aid could be sent, but did not specify when border crossings could safely begin operating. He said he had not.
The United States said it was working on an aid plan with Israel. White House Press Secretary John Kirby said they are close to finalizing a framework. This is likely to include the evacuation of some foreign passport holders from Gaza, but Egyptian officials said it would have to be accompanied by the provision of aid.
On Tuesday, an explosion at a hospital in Gaza killed hundreds of people and unleashed fresh anger across the Middle East. Israeli and Palestinian officials blamed each other for the deaths.
Volunteers waiting on the Egyptian side of Rafah offered funeral prayers for those killed.
Mr. Sisi and other Arab leaders canceled a scheduled meeting with Mr. Biden to protest the explosion and what they see as Washington’s pro-Israel bias.
According to a Reuters reporter, hundreds of Egyptians protested in downtown Cairo and on the campus of Cairo University. State television broadcast protests across the country.
Protesters in Cairo chanted “Open the intersection!” as police trucks waited nearby. “The people want Israel to fall!”
Nayela Abdallah and Nadine Awadallah reported from Dubai, and Amr Abdallah Darsh, Sherif Fahmy and Mohamed Abdel-Ghani from Cairo. Additional reporting by Ahmed Mohamed Hassan. Written by Aidan Lewis.Editing: Gareth Jones, Philippa Fletcher, Alistair Bell, Grant McCool
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