Point-blank: Circumventing Egypt’s objection

Mohamed Salmawy
Tuesday 7 May 2024

I can say with a considerable degree of confidence that there is a plan to circumvent Egypt’s firm opposition to the forced expulsion of the Palestinians to the Sinai as part of the greater scheme to bury the Palestinian cause.


Last week it was reported that the US navy had begun work on the temporary pier the stated purpose of which is to deliver humanitarian relief to the Palestinians in Gaza. But piers can operate in two directions. I strongly suspect that the US ships unloading aid shipments onto the pier will not leave with empty hulls. I also suspect that Cyprus will be turned into a temporary staging point for Palestinians driven out of Gaza as their parents and grandparents had been driven out of Palestine in the 1948 Nakba and from the rest of Palestine in the 1967 Naksa.

Israel is currently trying to tighten its control over the Philadelphia Corridor, the 14 km long buffer zone between Gaza and Sinai that extends from the Mediterranean down to the Karam Abu Salem crossing. The purpose is to direct the flow of Palestinians fleeing from Gaza towards the Egyptian border when the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) launch their invasion of Rafah, the preparations for which are reportedly in full swing. Israel and all the pro-Israeli media will then attempt to shift the blame onto Egypt, portraying its refusal to allow in Palestinians as a kind of genocide. As they build up the pressure, Egypt will receive pledges that if it does allow in the refugees for humanitarian reasons that will be for a limited time until they are transported to other countries.

In this regard, the US recently announced that it would allow in an unspecified number of refugees, especially those who have relatives in the US. Naturally, the number would be negligible, but the point is to make Palestinians believe that they will have an opportunity for a better life if they leave. Perhaps, too, it is a way to encourage other Western countries to open their doors to refugees from Gaza.

Egypt’s refusal to be complicit in Israel’s crimes of forced displacement, transfer and mass deportation has been the main obstacle to Israeli plans to take over and annex Gaza. The above plan to work around that obstacle will be marketed as a temporary measure, but Palestinians above all know they will never be allowed to return to their homeland. In all events, plans on the IOF drawing boards are one thing, and the realities of Palestinian resistance and steadfastness are another.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 9 May, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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