Four Egyptian workers were injured while trying to repair Rafah crossing, Egypt FM Sameh Shoukry tells CNN

Ahram Online , Wednesday 18 Oct 2023

Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs gave an interview to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, where he revealed 4 Egyptian workers were injured at the Rafah border crossing, discussed Egypt’s stance on the displacement of 2 million Palestinians, and re-addressed claims that Egyptian intelligence warned Israel of a Hamas attack.

Sameh Shoukry
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry listens to his French counterpart Catherine Colonna during a joint press conference at the Egyptian foreign ministry headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023. AP

 

Shoukry said that there are “miles” of assistance waiting to enter Gaza, but the crossing “has been bombed 4 times.” Four Egyptian workers were injured while trying to repair the damage.

The crossing itself has sustained “severe damage,” according to Shoukry, who also said that Egypt has no "clear, secure" ways for those convoys to be able to enter safely without the possibility of being targeted.

Israel has allowed no possibility of safe passage or a means to safely repair the damage that has been inflicted, he added.

Shoukry then addressed whether or not Egypt was willing to accept “tens or hundreds of thousands” of Palestinians. 

“It shouldn’t be a case of what should be allowed,” Shoukry stated, doubling down on Egypt’s view that the displacement violates international humanitarian law and that Gazans should remain on their territory.

“What is the purpose of the transfer, except if it’s intentional, of vast numbers of people to a country that’s already host to nine million?” Shoukry said. 

He highlighted that “many European countries are very sensitive to this issue,” and pointed out that the US considers irregular migration via its southern border a major concern.

“Why should Egypt be expected to allow the influx of one or two million people who are suffering the consequences of being targeted unnecessarily?”

Shoukry also expressed concern about the “intention” behind moving Palestinians out of the occupied West Bank, calling it unjustified and unwarranted. He warned that they would lose their property and homeland, and might not also be allowed back.

“This is a violation– if it doesn’t constitute a war crime,” he said.

He also expressed concern that the international community does not have the necessary “resolve” or the “commitment” to pursue the two-state solution to end the suffering of the Israeli and Palestinian people.

When asked whom he believes should govern Gaza if Israel removes the military threat posed by Hamas, Shoukry suggested that Gaza be governed by the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority, which has already demonstrated its ability to lead in the West Bank.

Finally, Shoukry spoke about the claims that Egypt’s head of intelligence warned Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s president, about “something fierce happening” days before the attack.

Netanyahu's office has since vehemently denied this report, but the US foreign affairs committee claims they also heard the rumour.

Shoukry reiterated that Egypt did not warn Israel prior to the attack. He said that for over a year and a half, Egypt has repeatedly warned its allies and friends in both the US and Israel that “the cycle of violence will return if the current political stagnation” in Palestine is allowed to persist.

This is not the first time Gaza has erupted, according to Shoukry, who recalled the West Bank's two prior Intifadas.

He stated that, on a personal level, he was shocked by the events of 7 October, saying that it was “horrendous”  and “deplorable” to see civilians targeted.

On 7 October, Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, which killed over 1,300. In retaliation, Israel bombarded Gaza, resulting in the deaths of over 3,000 so far, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

On October 17, the Israeli military struck a Gaza hospital, killing at least 600 people, which many world leaders and organizations have strongly condemned. 

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