Egypt: Sisi rejects displacement of Palestinians into Sinai

Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Wednesday that Egyptians in their millions would reject the forced displacement of Palestinians into Sinai, reported Reuters

Sisi added that any such move would turn the Sinai Peninsula into a base for attacks against Israel.

The Gaza Strip is effectively under Israeli control and Palestinians could instead be moved to Israel’s Negev desert “till the militants are dealt with”, Sisi told a joint news conference in Cairo with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The border between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip is the site of the only crossing from the Palestinian territory that is not controlled by Israel.

Israel’s unprecedented bombardment and siege of Gaza has raised fears that its 2.3 million residents could be forced southwards into Sinai.

“What is happening now in Gaza is an attempt to force civilian residents to take refugee and migrate to Egypt, which should not be accepted,” said Sisi.

“Egypt rejects any attempt to resolve the Palestinian issue by military means or through the forced displacement of Palestinians from their land, which would come at the expense of the countries of the region,” he said.

Sisi said the Egyptian people would “go out and protest in their millions… if called upon to do so” against any displacement of Gaza’s residents to Sinai.

Egypt is wary of insecurity near its border with Gaza in northeastern Sinai, where it faced an armed insurgency that escalated a decade ago.

Any transfer of Palestinians to Sinai would mean “that we move the idea of resistance, of combat, from the Gaza Strip to Sinai, and so Sinai would become the base for launching operations against Israel”, Sisi said.

Jordan, which shares a border with the Israeli-occupied West Bank and absorbed most of the Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes after the creation of the state of Israel, has also warned against Palestinians being forced off their land.

Egypt has been trying to channel humanitarian relief through its Rafah crossing with Gaza, but aid has been piling up on the Egyptian side as Israeli bombardments on the Gazan side have made the crossing inoperable.

The United States has said it is working with Israel on a plan for sending in aid, and White House spokesperson John Kirby said they were getting close to a framework for the plan. The plan is likely to involve the evacuation of some foreign passport holders from Gaza, but Egyptian officials say that has to be accompanied by the delivery of aid.

Sisi’s comments came after the Israeli bombardment of a hospital in the Gaza Strip, al-Mamdani (Baptist) Hospital, on Tuesday evening, killing large numbers of Palestinians and unleashing new fury across the Middle East just as U.S. President Joe Biden arrived in Israel.

Sisi and other Arab leaders have pulled out of a planned meeting with Biden in protest over the blast and what they see as Washington’s pro-Israel bias.