Egypt refuses to open Rafah crossing while Israel occupies it

Egypt refuses to open Rafah crossing while Israel occupies it
Egypt has rejected Israeli pressure to open the Rafah crossing, accusing Tel Aviv of trying to shift blame for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
3 min read
17 May, 2024
Israel continues to carry out operations at the Rafah crossing making the entrance of aid difficult [Gaza]

Egypt told Israel on Friday that it will not open the Rafah crossing from the Egyptian side as long as Israel continues to carry out military operations on the Palestinian side, an Egyptian source told The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister outlet, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

“Egyptian officials firmly rejected the operation or opening of the Rafah crossing under the current circumstances,” the source said.

This apparent rejection comes as Israel sent a delegation to Cairo, led by Ghassan Alian, the Coordinator of Israeli Government Activities in the Occupied Territories, to persuade the Egyptian government to open the Rafah crossing.

Tensions between Egypt and Israel have escalated over Rafah since Tel Aviv seized control of the Palestinian side of the crossing last week.

On Tuesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he had told the UK and Germany about “the need to persuade Egypt to reopen” the crossing.

“The world places the responsibility for the humanitarian situation on Israel, but the key to preventing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza is now in the hands of our Egyptian friends,” Katz wrote on X.

However, Egypt says that Israeli military operations in Rafah are preventing aid from passing through. Cairo is also concerned that Israel wants it to open the crossing to allow for the pushing of Palestinian civilians from Gaza into the Egyptian Sinai.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that Israel is trying to shift blame to Egypt for its deliberate policy of blocking aid into Gaza.

Live Story

“Tel Aviv must open the crossings it controls at full capacity if its primary concern behind demanding the opening of the Rafah crossing is to allow the entry of aid … the Israeli government alone bears full responsibility for the humanitarian catastrophe,” the Egyptian source said.

“The Israeli side has no choice but to withdraw from the Rafah crossing if it wishes to end this crisis,” the source continued.

The source also said that Egypt is furious at Israel for reneging on previous promises made in discussions between the two countries over Rafah.

“There is a state of dissatisfaction in light of the Israeli government’s decision to remain at the crossing and the Philadelphia corridor, ignoring many of the high-level military and security discussions that took place.”

Additionally, Egyptian President Abeel Fattah El-Sisi made direct reference to Israel’s activities in Rafah at the Arab Summit in Bahrain on Thursday.

Live Story

“Israel continues to engage in evasive actions to shirk its responsibilities and in devious manoeuvering around efforts to achieve a ceasefire,” Sisi said.

“Furthermore, it is defiantly adamant about its widely condemned military operation in Rafah, and seeks to leverage the Rafah crossing, from the Palestinian side, to solidify its siege on the Gaza Strip.”

On Sunday, Egypt announced it would join South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice.

“Egypt has prepared a comprehensive file to be submitted via the South African government to the International Court of Justice,” the Egyptian source confirmed.

“Egypt has detailed Israel’s blocking of aid from reaching Gaza and the false claims that food, water, and medicine are not being obstructed, which amounts to genocide,” the source added.