A reading of the Egyptian position on the Israeli escalation in Rafah

Mohamed Ibrahim Eldawiry
Monday 6 May 2024

Since the outbreak of the Israeli war on Gaza on 7 October 2023, Egypt has made intensive efforts to stop the war.

 

Cairo made unprecedented efforts in the recent period to reach a humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip to stop the Israeli massacres and try to establish a breathing space that would provide the climate for more comprehensive moves starting with the truce, a prisoner swap deal, and the introduction of more aid until we reach the stage of resuming the political process.

Efforts to achieve a truce deal
 

Egypt has not only been engaged in intensive contact with all parties but has also proposed a comprehensive vision for resolving the Gaza crisis.

This vision, which comprised practical proposals, has become the main axis of all the negotiations that have taken place in Paris, Doha, Tel Aviv, and recently in Cairo over the past few days.

The recent Egyptian proposals have added a great deal of positive atmosphere to the negotiations and have been widely accepted and welcomed.

There were great hopes that a truce could be announced within a few days, which the people of the Gaza Strip are eagerly awaiting to stop the repercussions of the unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe they are suffering from - which everyone considers to be the worst humanitarian catastrophe in recent times.

It is important to note here that Egypt presented proposals to Israel and Hamas during the past few days.

The last of these proposals was shared with a delegation from the political bureau of Hamas that was present in Cairo on Saturday and Sunday.

The Hamas delegation promised a final response to these proposals in days with the possibility of introducing some minor amendments.

The delegation left Cairo following a Qassam Brigades missile attack on an Israeli military base in the vicinity of the Karm Abu Salem crossing.

Preventing an Israeli Incursion into Rafah
 

I would not be exaggerating if I said that Egypt was racing against time and even trying to stop the clock so that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip could avoid the disastrous consequences of an Israeli military operation in Rafah.

Egypt was working day and night - with strength, seriousness, and awareness - to stop this operation in any way possible.

Cairo had succeeded in stopping this operation until Sunday despite the intense pressure being exerted by the Israeli far right on Prime Minister Netanyahu to reject a truce deal, refuse the Egyptian proposals, and immediately begin implementing the Rafah operation.

A Hamas attack and its consequences
 

Amid these very difficult efforts and negotiations that Egypt is exerting with all parties, we were surprised by Hamas executing a military operation against one of the Israeli sites near the Karm Abu Salem crossing, which is one of the main crossings through which humanitarian aid enters the Gaza Strip.

We were also surprised by Hamas' announcement of its responsibility for this operation at a time when Hamas' Political Bureau leaders were negotiating with Egypt to finalize the truce agreement.

In light of the relentless and intensive pressures exerted by the far right in the Israeli ruling coalition on Benjamin Netanyahu, especially following Hamas' recent operation, Israel ordered at dawn on 6 May the residents of the eastern part of the Palestinian city of Rafah to evacuate and also began bombing homes in this area, leaving many dead and wounded.

Continued efforts to de-escalate the situation
 

Realizing that the current situation could deteriorate in the wake of these latest developments, Egypt started a series of important and urgent contacts with all parties, including Israel, the United States, and the Palestinian resistance factions, to prevent the deterioration of the situation - as we were on the verge of containing the conflict and reaching a truce before we could reach a point of no return.

Despite these developments, Egypt still adheres to its position announced by the political leadership several months ago: The absolute rejection of any Israeli incursion into the city of Rafah, stressing such an incursion would have disastrous consequences for all parties involved, including the drawing of regional parties into the conflict thus expanding its circle and possibly precipitating an explosive situation in the whole region.

Egypt regrets when it finds that some parties are moving according to narrow calculations not according to a national agenda.

Hence, we call on everyone to exercise reason and wisdom for the sake of the interests of their people.

We also call on the Israeli government to stop the operations that began at dawn Monday in the eastern part of Rafah.

Conclusion
 

Egypt is following the situation closely and will seize the appropriate opportunity to resume the truce negotiations and will not spare any efforts to resolve the conflict.

Egypt still bears the greatest burden but various parties must shoulder their responsibilities to resolve the crisis.

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