North Sinai Governor denies rumors of 'constructing displacement camps' for Gazans in Egyptian Rafah

Ahram Online , Thursday 15 Feb 2024

North Sinai Governor Mohamed Abdel-Fadil Shousha denied the rumors about the construction of camps to accommodate Palestinians in case they are forced to leave Gaza, the Al-Arabiya Satellite channel reported on Thursday.

Abdel-Fadil Shousha
File Photo: North Sinai Governor Mohamed Abdel-Fadil Shousha. Al-Ahram.


The governor indicated the ongoing work in the Egyptian city of Rafah -- located to the west of the Palestinian Rafah across the Egypt-Gaza border -- concerns cataloging buildings demolished during the country's recent war on terrorism.

The Egyptian authorities demolished these houses during its war against terrorism in 2014 and 2015 to create a buffer zone in the far northeast of the Sinai Peninsula along the border with Gaza, which separates the Palestinian Rafah in the east and the Egyptian Rafah in the west.

The establishment of the buffer zone was part of the government's battle against a decade-long campaign by terrorist groups in the Sinai Peninsula that peaked in the year and a half following the ouster of late Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 during the 30 June Revolution.

Shousha's statement to Al-Arabiya comes in light of circulating reports claiming Egypt has started building displacement camps to shelter Palestinian refugees inside Sinai – near the borders with the Gaza Strip.

These rumors, which alleged “establishing a secured zone bordered by walls to accommodate Gaza refugees in case of mass displacement," come amid Israeli threats to launch a ground offensive against the Palestinian Rafah.

The Palestinian Rafah, home to 280,000 residents, has seen its population surge to over 1.5 million, accounting for approximately three-quarters of Gaza's 2.4 million population, as Israel pushed the residents of the strip from the northern parts to the southernmost governorate in the strip declaring it a 'safe zone."

Egypt: No to displacement!

Egypt has reiterated multiple times its complete rejection of the idea of displacing Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Sinai, a proposal previously suggested by Israeli officials.

In early January, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi re-emphasized during a meeting with a US Congress delegation in Cairo the nation's outright rejection of any attempt to liquidate the Palestinian cause through the forced displacement of Palestinians.

In November 2023, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry slammed remarks made by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich calling for the “voluntary” displacement of Palestinians from Gaza.

Shoukry said at the time that Israeli policies of forcing Palestinians from their homes constitute "a full-fledged war crime under the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.”

Egypt’s top diplomat also denounced Smotrich’s claims that any displacement of Palestinians would be voluntary, affirming that people in Gaza are being compelled to leave their homes due to “deliberate military targeting of civilians in the strip, the intentional siege, and starvation operations.”

Shoukry further emphasized that Egypt will continue its efforts to preserve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to remain on their land and establish an independent, viable, and contiguous state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

On Sunday, the Egyptian foreign ministry issued a statement stressing a complete rejection of the statements made by high-ranking officials in the Israeli government regarding the intention of Israeli forces to launch a military operation in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. 

Cairo further warned of the dire consequences of such actions, particularly in light of the risks of worsening the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip.

The statement affirmed that targeting Rafah in Gaza, along with Israel’s continued policy of obstructing access to humanitarian aid, is tantamount to implementing the policy of displacing the Palestinian people and liquidating their cause.

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