Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Wednesday that Egyptians in their millions would reject the forced displacement of Palestinians into Sinai, adding that any such move would turn the Egyptian peninsula into a base for attacks against Israel.
Later, following a phone call between Sisi and U.S. President Joe Biden, a White House spokesman said about 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid would enter Gaza from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in the coming days.
White House spokesman John Kirby said the road needed some repairs first, and that he hoped more trucks would follow. The Egyptian presidency said it was agreed that aid should be provided in a “sustainable manner”.
Egypt has been trying to channel humanitarian relief to Gaza through the Rafah crossing, but aid has been piling up on the Egyptian side after Israeli bombardments made the crossing inoperable.
Egypt has been alarmed at the idea that Israel’s unprecedented bombardment and siege of Gaza, home to 2.3 million people, could force its residents southwards into Sinai.
The Gaza Strip is effectively under Israeli control and Palestinians could instead be moved to Israel’s Negev desert “till the militants are dealt with”, Sisi told a joint press conference in Cairo with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
The border between Sinai and the Gaza Strip has the only crossing from the Palestinian territory that is not controlled by Israel.
“What is happening now in Gaza is an attempt to force civilian residents to take refugee and migrate to Egypt, which should not be accepted,” said Sisi.
Referring to the Egyptian position at a Beirut press conference, Hamas official Osama Hamdan called “for rallying around this position and supporting it on the popular and Arab official level because this represents real protection for our Palestinian people.”
(Inputs from Reuters)