Egypt fears Israel pushing Palestinians to Sinai with south Gaza strikes
Egyptian sources involved in Cairo's mediation between Israel and Hamas expressed renewed fears on Saturday that Israel is attempting to push Gaza's Palestinian population into the Sinai after the breakdown of the temporary truce between Tel Aviv and Hamas.
Egyptian officials believe that the positioning of Israel’s strikes aim to "shake the population block from the south and push it towards Egypt," the unnamed source told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
They added: “By reviewing the map Israel published yesterday (Friday), which designates the south as a sector divided into squares and shows [Israeli] strikes in the west and east of the south, it becomes apparent that the goal is to gradually shift or displace the population towards the Egyptian border”.
Israel has given Egypt assurances that its strikes in the south will target Hamas only, but the North African state's monitoring of the strikes so far suggest Israel is attacking civilian areas with the purpose of forcing civilians closer to the Egyptian border. This includes airstrikes on Rafah, of which there were multiple following the end of the truce on Friday.
Southern Gaza is now crammed with most of the strip’s 2.3 million population after Israel’s intense bombardment of the north drove them out of their homes, many of which have been destroyed.
Despite frequently bombing it and targeting those fleeing to it, Israel initially designated the south of the strip as a “safe zone”, claiming the north as the stronghold of Hamas.
However, having now targeted and destroyed vast swathes of city blocks, homes, hospitals, schools and civil infrastructure, Israel then shifted its focus to the south, claiming Hamas presence there.
Israel 'weaponising aid'
Israel has now begun using similar tactics in the southern city of Khan Younis, now crowded with traumatised refugees from the north, intensifying strikes on civilian areas and airdropping leaflets warning the population to flee further south to Rafah at the Egyptian border.
The Egyptian sources also highlighted Cairo’s concern that the resumption of Israeli strikes occurred in conjunction to Israel slowing down aid to civilians in the south.
Egypt believes that this move is deliberate and an attempt by Israel to weaponise aid to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis and “export it” to Egypt.
Fearing an influx of refugees, the Egyptians have already begun setting up barriers along the border with Gaza, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed. Additionally, Cairo is considering letting humanitarian aid go directly through Rafah, bypassing the Auja/Nitzana border crossing where Israel is able to slow the aid deliveries under the pretext of inspections.
The mass displacement of civilians by the means of war or the threat of war is considered a contravention of international law and a war crime.