Egypt reinforces army on border with Gaza as Israel continues indiscriminate attacks
Tribal sources in North Sinai province told The New Arab that the Egyptian army had intensified its presence in Rafah city and around the border crossing with Gaza, the Palestinian strips’ only connection to the outside world, as aircraft have since been hovering around the area.
UK-based Sinai Foundation for Human Rights said that army officers of different ranks had been seen on the scene, posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, a video showing a convoy of army trucks and tanks heading from North Sinai's capital city, El-Arish, towards Rafah.
#عاجل أفادت مصادر محلية وشهود عيان لمؤسسة سيناء بوصول تعزيزات عسكرية كبيرة لمنطقة رفح الحدودية ظهر اليوم الخميس، وقالت المصادر إن التعزيزات اشتملت على ضباط وجنود وآليات عسكرية وعربات جيب ودبابات.— Sinai for Human Rights (@Sinaifhr) October 12, 2023
وحصلت مؤسسة سيناء على فيديو يظهر جزء من تلك التعزيزات العسكرية أثناء مرورها بمدينة… pic.twitter.com/7d3VmrWBDm
But the actual reason for the army's intensive presence on the border has not been officially declared as of yet, at a time when over 200 Palestinians are stranded in North Sinai after the Egyptian authorities had shut down the Rafah border crossing on Monday until further notice due to Israeli strikes on the crossing.
"The only justification for such military presence is to hinder any attempts of Palestinians to illegally infiltrate Egypt as conspiracy theories about Egypt giving up part of Sinai to Gazans to build their own country have recently resurfaced," a security expert told TNA on condition of anonymity.
On Tuesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi voiced concerns over the escalation in Gaza, describing it as "highly dangerous."
During a public speech, Sisi refuted conspiracy theories about Egypt giving up part of North Sinai for Gazans to establish an autonomous nation. Sisi said that Egypt would not allow the issue to be settled at the expense of others.
"Egypt has controlled, to a great extent, militancy in North Sinai, destroying hundreds of tunnels that insurgents used to enter the country, many of them [allegedly] Palestinians. But concerns remain over the possible emergence of a new war on terror given the circumstances," the expert concluded.
Since 2007, Egypt and Israel have imposed a strict blockade on Gaza after Hamas assumed power following clashes with the rival Fatah faction that rules the occupied West Bank.
It was not until nearly a decade later, when Hamas dropped its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, a legally outlawed group in Egypt since 2014, that the Egyptian regime softened its tone towards the Palestinian faction.
Egypt and Israel have technically been at peace since 1978, sharing strong diplomatic and economic relations.