Rafah invasion will be ineffective, jeopardize Egypt-Israel peace: SIS chief

Amr Kandil , Wednesday 24 Apr 2024

The widely rejected plans for an Israeli invasion of the Palestinian Rafah city in southern Gaza would prove ineffective in freeing captives or eliminating Hamas, stated Diaa Rashwan, head of the State Information Service (SIS).

A Palestinian man waits for news of his daughter as rescue workers search for survivors under the rubble of a building hit in an overnight Israeli bombing in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 21, 2024. AFP

During an interview with Extra News on Tuesday evening, Rashwan warned that a ground invasion of Rafah would jeopardize over four decades of peaceful Egyptian-Israeli relations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s forces would return "empty-handed" if they were to enter Rafah, he added, dismissing Netanyahu’s Rafah invasion plans as mere threats.

“If he enters Rafah, he will not offer the Israeli community anything that would bring solace to the families of the detainees, nor will he return with the heads of Hamas leaders chopped off or succeed in halting the firing launched from Gaza,” Rashwan said.

Despite global condemnation, Israel is bombing Rafah, raising fears among helpless civilians. Netanyahu said this month that a date had been set for the city invasion.

Endangering bilateral peace

On relations with Israel, Rashwan stated that Egypt would never forsake its ties with any country unless its national security or the Palestinian cause were jeopardized, as per President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's remarks.

“The risk lies not only in Netanyahu invading Rafah and killing people as he did, but also in jeopardizing a relationship that has spanned nearly 45 years of peace with Egypt.”

Rashwan stated that Egypt has been the guarantor of peace in the region since the signing of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Reports emerged over the past months that Egypt has threatened to suspend the treaty in case Israel proceeds with its Rafah invasion. Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry affirmed Egypt's adherence to the deal as long as Israel respects it. 

Alleged Rafah coordination

Earlier on Tuesday, Rahwan denied American news reports claiming that Egypt had discussed with Israel plans for the Rafah invasion, reaffirming Cairo’s categorical rejection of this operation.

Rashwan also underscored that Egypt had consistently warned the Israeli side through various channels against carrying out this operation.

He added that this operation would lead to further significant human casualties and widespread destruction and harm regional stability.

The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed Egyptian officials as disclosing a planned Israeli evacuation in Rafah in coordination with Egypt, the US, and other Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates.

The alleged plan includes moving civilians to other areas in Gaza, including the nearby Khan Younis city, over the course of two to three weeks, according to the officials.

Severe consequences

Egypt has repeatedly warned against the invasion of Rafah, which lies near the Egyptian border and is currently home to more than half of Gaza’s population, the most of whom were displaced by the war.

Egypt as well as the international community have highlighted imminent humanitarian catastrophic consequences due to the invasion.

Egypt is also concerned that the invasion will push around 1.4 million Palestinians currently seeking refuge in the city to Egypt through the border, a matter that Egypt has denounced as a “red line.”

Egypt, Qatar, and the US have been mediating between Israel and Hamas over the past months in a bid to reach a truce after more than six years of war.

A highly-anticipated ceasefire in Gaza is planned to facilitate the release of more than 100 Israeli captives and ensure further aid delivery to the strip, which suffers one of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophes.

Over the past 200 days, since the war started on 7 October, Israeli forces have killed over 34,000 people, injured more than 77,000, damaged and destroyed most of the infrastructure in Gaza, and displaced most of the civilians.

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