Israel 'smart border' plan for Egypt-Gaza border 'insulting' to Cairo: report

Israel 'smart border' plan for Egypt-Gaza border 'insulting' to Cairo: report
Egyptian sources have branded Israel's plans for a smart border between Rafah and Gaza as violation of Cairo's sovereignty.
3 min read
29 December, 2023
The Rafah border is the only crossing point between Egypt and Gaza [Getty/file photo]

Egyptian officials have reportedly dismissed Israeli proposals for a "smart border" between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, branding the plan "insulting".

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant made the suggestion on Tuesday during a special session held by the Foreign and Security Affairs Committee in the Knesset, saying the move would tackle arms smuggling into Gaza.

However, an Egyptian strategic security source cited by The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, said Cairo has already taken many measures over the years to demolish tunnels that connected its territory to the Gaza Strip, and that procedures were followed to ensure that no tunnels remain in the area.

The source added that Cairo "categorically rejects such ideas, which would undermine Egyptian sovereignty as Egypt is already capable of protecting and securing its borders".

"As long as the Israeli minister of security believes that this wall will provide them with protection, then why did they fail to do protect themselves on October 7?" the source added, in reference to the cross-border attack carried by Hamas that killed over 1,000 people.

"It is better for the Israeli side to think practically and put aside internal political competition from managing its relationship with the region, because that relationship has limitations and is built on clear foundations and agreements."

Israeli broadcaster Kan 11 reported that Gallant had notified members of the parliamentary committee that Israel is in contact with Egypt to build an "advanced obstacle" along the Philadelphia axis between Gaza and Sinai that "includes technological means", in response to "criticisms directed at claims of weapon smuggling" between the two territories.

Israel has carried out a brutal military onslaught in Gaza for over two and a half months, killing 21,507 Palestinians. Aid has entered the territory via the Rafah border crossing sporadically, while foreign passport holders have been able to evacuate via the crossing too. Egypt controls the Rafah border, though imports through the crossing require Israeli approval.

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Tribal sources in the Sinai have told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the Egyptian military has already begun development work for the border area by erecting various barriers, in addition to deploying special forces along the border.

Political science researcher Hossam Al-Hamalawy revealed that the idea of a "smart border" between Gaza and Rafah isn't new but was "preceded by multiple similar projects since the era of late President Hosni Mubarak. 

Meanwhile, writer Ayman Al-Rafati, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Israel "is still trying to arrange the post-Gaza war phase, on the basis of excluding Hamas, and this is why it's trying to arrange new arrangements with the Egyptians."

This includes the entry of goods into Gaza, therefore seeking to establish an electronic and inspection control zone inside Egypt before the Rafah crossing, which is a violation of Egyptian sovereignty," he said.