May 26, 2024

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Egypt warns Israel of “severe repercussions” of the Rafah operation in Gaza

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An Egyptian official told CNN that Egypt may consider downgrading relations with Israel if it continues a military operation in the city of Rafah in the far south of the Gaza Strip on the Egyptian border.

He added: “Everything is possible and on the table, including reducing the level of relations.” But we’re not there yet. “We are talking with the Israelis and trying to clarify and reach a consensus.”

The official said that coordination between the two countries regarding the Rafah operation, which Egypt publicly opposed, “did not go well. That is why we warned Israel of dire consequences.”

CNN contacted the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that Egypt was considering reducing relations with Israel.

The two countries were at loggerheads this week after Israel began a limited military operation in Rafah last week and seized the Palestinian side of the border with Egypt. Egypt then refused to coordinate the delivery of aid to Gaza with Israel. The official told CNN earlier that the delivery of aid to the Palestinians may stop because Egypt cannot guarantee the safety of its trucks, as they may be attacked by Palestinian militants targeting Israeli forces.

Senior diplomats in both countries exchanged blame for the closure of the Rafah crossing while delivering aid through the main land crossing to stop.

The Rafah crossing was the entry point for about a quarter of the relief supplies entering the Gaza Strip before the Israeli operation. On Tuesday, the US State Department warned that only 50 humanitarian aid trucks arrived in Gaza on Sunday, down from hundreds per day in previous weeks, and added that the number was “not nearly enough.”

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Israel blamed the closure of the crossing on Egypt. in Statement on XIsraeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Tuesday that he spoke with British Foreign Minister David Cameron and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock “about the need to persuade Egypt to reopen the Rafah crossing to allow the continued delivery of international humanitarian aid to Gaza.”

The Israeli minister’s statements caught the eye Violent reaction from the Egyptian Foreign MinisterSameh Shukri rejected Katz’s statement and described it as “a policy of distorting facts.”

Shukry expressed Egypt’s “categorical rejection of the policy of distorting facts and disavowing responsibility followed by the Israeli side,” adding that Katz’s statements are “desperate attempts by Israel to hold Egypt responsible for the unprecedented humanitarian crisis facing the Gaza Strip.”

Shukri said that the crisis “is a direct result of indiscriminate Israeli attacks against the Palestinians for more than seven months.”

Israel said it would never allow Hamas to control the border crossing. The Egyptian official told CNN that Egypt does not want Hamas to control either, but Israeli control is also unacceptable.

“The crossing must be in Palestinian hands,” the official said, adding that the crossing could be placed under the control of Palestinian Civil Defense. “These are neither Hamas nor Fatah (a rival party to Hamas).”

Adding to the tensions are Israeli military movements that saw tanks and soldiers of the Jewish state operating on Egypt’s doorstep, sparking anger in the Egyptian media over alleged violations of the peace treaty signed between the two countries in 1979.

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Israeli forces crossed into a demilitarized zone under that treaty four decades ago — including parts of the border area known as the Philadelphia Corridor, where the Rafah crossing is located. Videos published by the Israeli army last week showed Israeli flags raised on the Palestinian side of the border.

The Philadelphia Corridor is a strip of land 14 kilometers (about 8.7 mi) long and 100 meters wide that runs along the border between Gaza and Egypt. The corridor is central to the 1979 treaty, the agreement that ended hostility between Egypt and Israel and restricted the number of forces each side could station near the other’s territory.

Changes to the security presence in the area must be made by mutual agreement. over the years, Amendments to security agreements Relations between Egypt and Israel have allowed Cairo to strengthen its security presence in the Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel.

Palestinians displaced by the Israeli air and ground attack on the Gaza Strip walk through a makeshift camp in Rafah on the border with Egypt, in Gaza on May 10.

Israel did not reveal the size of its military presence in Rafah. But according to the 1979 peace treatywhich was put in place before Israel unilaterally withdrew its forces from Gaza in 2005, Israel is allowed to have a limited force of four infantry battalions in Area D – where the Philadelphia Corridor is located.

These battalions may consist of up to 180 armored personnel vehicles and a total of four thousand personnel. The treaty says that the presence of tanks, artillery and anti-aircraft missiles, with the exception of individual surface-to-air missiles, is not permitted.

It is unclear how many Israeli forces are now stationed across the border in Rafah. In response to a question by CNN about the size of its military operation in the city, and whether it was coordinated with the Egyptians, the Israeli army refused to comment.

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