Egypt refutes Biden claims, affirms unrestricted opening of Rafah crossing since start of Israeli war on Gaza

Amr Kandil , Friday 9 Feb 2024

The Egyptian Presidency has rejected the remarks made by US President Joe Biden suggesting that Egypt was initially reluctant to open the Rafah crossing during the Israeli war on Gaza, to allow aid to reach the residents of the strip.

File photo: President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, at the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit. AP


In a statement on Friday, the Presidency emphasized that Egypt has opened the crossing from the get-go of the war in Gaza, allowing the passage of humanitarian aid without restrictions.

The statement reaffirmed the country’s commitment to facilitating the entry of aid into Gaza while blaming the Israeli earlier shellings of the Palestinian side of the crossing that made it inaccessible and unsafe for aid convoys.

During a press conference on Thursday, Biden claimed that President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi “did not want to open the gate to humanitarian material to get in,” noting that he convinced El-Sisi to open the crossing.

However, the US president mistakenly referred to El-Sisi as “the president of Mexico,” raising concerns about the accuracy of his recollection.

“From the very beginning, Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing from its side without restrictions or conditions,” the Presidency affirmed.

The country also mobilized massive quantities of humanitarian aid from Egypt and other countries that dispatched its assistance to the El-Arish airport, the Presidency stated.

Countless pressures


The Presidency noted that Israel attacked the crossing from the Palestinian side four times, initially hindering the entry of aid. However, Egypt, out of its humanitarian responsibility toward Palestinian people in the strip, promptly repaired the crossing’s roads to ensure aid could flow uninterrupted, stressed the statement.

"Egypt has endured countless pressures and burdens in order to ensure a smooth flow of aid," it added, noting that the country has, and still is, engaged with all stakeholders, regional, international and the UN, to pressure for aid access at scale and on a sustainable basis.

The statement also confirmed that 80 percent of the aid delivered to Gaza is provided by the Egyptian government, people and civil society and that Egypt has facilitated visits by international officials and UN members to inspect the tremendous efforts made by Egyptian authorities in this respect.

The Presidency reaffirmed Egypt’s “unwavering stance to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza as soon as possible to safeguard civilians from the worst humanitarian tragedy imaginable and shield them from bombings, starvation and illness.”

Egypt will also continue to take a leading role in organizing, mobilizing and delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza in the largest possible quantities.

The Presidency also urged all involved parties to cooperate and facilitate aid entry as needed.

Additionally, the statement reiterated Egypt’s rejection of any attempts to displace the Palestinians from their lands, affirming that such endeavours will ultimately fail.

The Presidency stressed the importance of implementing a two-state solution, establishing an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, based on the borders of June 4, 1967.

It described this effort as the sole solution for the current situation.

Egypt-US consensus


Cairo also rejected "the politicization of humanitarian aid in all its forms," stressing that "it cannot be used as a tool of war."

In a phone interview with Al-Qahirah News Channel, the presidential spokesperson added that Egypt "has refused from the very beginning the policies of collective punishment in Gaza."

However, the statement also highlighted the “consensus in positions and the continuation of joint work and intensified cooperation” between Egypt and the United States to achieve calm in the Gaza Strip.

The Presidency highlighted cooperation between both countries, aimed to reach a ceasefire, implement humanitarian truces, deliver aid in the necessary quantities promptly, and reject forced displacement.

Furthermore, the Presidency underscored the “full consensus” between Egypt and the US, based on their strategic partnership, to consolidate peace, security and stability in the Middle East.

A key regional linchpin


Since the beginning of the Israeli aggression in Gaza, Egypt has been leading efforts to deliver tens of thousands of humanitarian aid to the strip, including contributions from the country’s NGOs, national institutions, international relief agencies, and world countries.

Egypt has also intensified coordination with the United States and Qatar to reach a ceasefire in the strip.

Intelligence chiefs from Egypt, the UAE, Israel, and the Qatari prime minister proposed a promising framework for a prolonged truce during a meeting in Paris in late January.

Moreover, El-Sisi discussed the ceasefire efforts with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who visited Cairo on Tuesday as part of his fifth tour to the Middle East seeking an end to the ongoing crisis in Gaza.

Israel is facing growing pressures from the international community to end its attacks in Gaza as the death toll in the strip climbed to 27,947, the majority of which are women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

The Israeli aggression also displaced around 1.9 million people in Gaza, representing more than 85 percent of the population, damaging vital infrastructure across the strip and putting the majority of health facilities out of service.

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