Cairo, Oct 18 (EFE).- Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday strongly opposed the idea of relocating Palestinians into Egypt, suggesting instead they could be moved to a desert in southern Israeli until the Israeli military completes its ongoing operation in the Gaza strip.
Sisi warned that millions of Egyptians were prepared to take to the streets to protest any proposal to displace Gaza residents to Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.
“Egypt has 105 million inhabitants. If the situation comes to it, it will be necessary to call on the Egyptian people to come out and express their rejection of such proposals. You will see millions of Egyptians (…) supporting Egypt’s position in this regard,” Sisi said during a joint press conference with the visiting German foreign minister Olaf Scholz in Cairo.
He said Israel’s military operation and siege in Gaza, which has hindered the delivery of water, fuel, electricity, and humanitarian aid to the enclave, were intended to ultimately force Palestinians to migrate to Egypt.
“What is happening now in Gaza is not just a military act against Hamas but an attempt to force civilian residents to migrate to Egypt. This is not acceptable,” the Egyptian president said.
Sisi expressed concerns that the Israeli operation in Gaza could take years and any displacement of Palestinians could turn Egypt’s Sinai into a base for attacks against Israel.
“This military operation could take years. Egypt would have to bear the consequences, and the Sinai would become a launching base for terrorist operations against Israel, and we, in Egypt, would be held responsible for this,” he underlined.
In an alternative proposal, the president suggested that instead of Egypt, Gaza residents could be temporarily settled in the southern regions of Israel until the situation allows for their safe return to their homes.
“There is the Negev desert in Israel, Palestinians can be moved there until Israel completes its announced operation (in Gaza) (…) and then they can return, if they wish,” he added.
In recent days, Israel, which has launched an all-out siege and blockade of Gaza, ordered Palestinians to evacuate the northern parts of the strip and move to the south near the Egyptian border in anticipation of a large-scale ground invasion.
The border crossing between Gaza and Egypt has largely remained closed for any type of movement since the outbreak of the conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas on Oct. 7.
For days, dozens of trucks have been waiting on the Egyptian side in order to enter Gaza and deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.
The Egyptian president insisted that the border crossing was open from the Egyptian side, but remained inoperable on the Palestinian side due to continued Israeli airstrikes.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas has so far killed around 3,000 and injured 12,500 people in Gaza, as well as resulting in 1,400 deaths and wounding over 4,200 in Israel. EFE