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Egypt Takes Measures to Prevent Mass Migration from Gaza Amid Israeli Airstrikes

Egypt has implemented measures aimed at averting a potential mass exodus from the Gaza Strip to its Sinai Peninsula. This comes in response to the temporary suspension of movement through the main exit point from Gaza due to Israeli airstrikes, as reported by both Gaza officials and Egyptian security sources.

Israel’s military actions in Gaza have raised concerns in Egypt, which has called on Israel to ensure safe passage for civilians out of Gaza rather than pushing them to head southwest into Sinai, according to two Egyptian security sources.

On Tuesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi characterized the escalation in Gaza as “highly dangerous” and expressed Egypt’s commitment to seeking a negotiated solution to the violence in collaboration with regional and international partners. He emphasized that Egypt would not allow the situation to be problematic for others, likely referring to the risk of displacing Palestinians to Sinai.

Egypt Gaza

The Rafah border crossing, the sole potential entry point into Sinai for Gaza’s 2.3 million residents, remained closed on Wednesday morning. Egyptian military aircraft conducted flights nearby overnight, and military forces have positioned themselves near the border, conducting patrols to monitor the area.

Rafah is crucial because the rest of Gaza is surrounded by the sea and Israel. Israel has declared a total blockade of Gaza and is considering a ground offensive.

The passage of people and goods in and out of Gaza is subject to strict controls enforced by both Egypt and Israel.

On Tuesday, the Israeli military revised its earlier recommendation for Palestinians fleeing the airstrikes in Gaza to head to Egypt.

Historic Mediator

Egypt, the first Arab nation to establish peace with Israel, has a history of mediating between Israel and Palestinian factions during previous Gaza conflicts and has been active in preventing further escalation in the current conflict.

Gaza’s Hamas-led Interior Ministry reported that bombardments damaged an entry gate on the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing on both Monday and Tuesday. Egypt closed this side, causing Palestinians planning to travel to Gaza to retreat to the main city of Al Arish in northern Sinai.

On Monday, about 800 people left Gaza via the Rafah crossing, with approximately 500 people entering, although the movement of goods was prohibited. Sinai’s governor met with local authorities to prepare for potential crises arising from events in Gaza. Ambulances in Sinai are on standby for potential evacuations from Gaza.

So far, there has been no sign of mass gatherings of Palestinians at the Rafah crossing, and only scheduled departures have taken place until Tuesday.

In 2008, tens of thousands of Palestinians crossed into Sinai after Hamas breached a border wall.

Security in the vicinity of Rafah is a concern for Egypt, as Sinai has experienced an Islamist insurgency that flared up a decade ago. Hamas, which has governed Gaza since 2007, shares the Islamist ideology of the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt.

In recent years, Egypt’s military has largely asserted control over northern Sinai, dealing with sporadic insurgent attacks in the region.

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