With the impact of the war on Gaza, Egyptian-Israeli relations are going through one of their most tense turns in a decade 1979 peace agreementThe two sides exchange conflicting messages regarding the displacement of the people of Gaza to Sinai, and Fatah Rafah crossing In both directions.
Since the Camp David Accords, side incidents have occurred that have resulted in deaths and injuries on both sides. The Egyptian street is also witnessing protests demanding a firmer official stance towards the aggression against Gaza.
Pressures for displacement
Israeli voices calling for the displacement of the population of Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula are mounting, with the aim of bringing about a geopolitical change in the map of the Palestinian issue. These voices enjoy explicit American support, which was clearly expressed by the Strategic Communications Coordinator at the US National Security Council, John Kirby, who said, “The Egyptians must prepare to open the Rafah crossing and allow the flow of human traffic through it.”
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stressed it, saying, “Washington is holding talks with Israel and Egypt about providing safe passage for civilians in Gaza,” while there are reports that Cairo is being offered a set of temptations, including exempting it from a large amount of its foreign debt or providing new loans larger than The International Monetary Fund alleviates its worsening economic crisis.
On the other hand, Egyptian statements – made by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry – continue, rejecting the displacement plan, as they see it as a strategic danger aimed at liquidating the Palestinian issue, and transforming the Gaza file from being an Israeli crisis to becoming an Egyptian crisis, as the residents of Gaza will inevitably begin… By reorganizing their ranks, they will engage in resistance activities again from Sinai.
This will push Israel to respond and carry out counterattacks, as was happening in the 1950s, and at that time led to the killing of hundreds of Egyptian soldiers in several attacks launched by Israel in retaliation for the Fedayeen attacks in the Gaza Strip, which was under Egyptian administration, and then Egypt will find itself between two options: either confront the attacks. Israel militarily, or confronting Palestinian resistance groups on behalf of Israel, both options are not favored by Cairo.
Call to the street
Some Egyptian cities witnessed protests against the Israeli aggression on Gaza, especially on the first Friday after the outbreak of events, specifically on October 13, when Al-Azhar Mosque witnessed a protest. Many universities also witnessed protests immediately after the Baptist Hospital massacre occurred, but the protests There was a big jump after Sisi threatened on October 18 – while holding a press conference in Cairo with German Chancellor Olaf Schulz – that millions of Egyptians would take to the streets if he called on them to demonstrate in protest against the plan to displace the people of Gaza to Sinai.
The parties loyal to the authority quickly organized protests in most of the main squares in Egyptian cities, and the Ministry of Interior turned a blind eye to other protests, one of which entered Tahrir Square, the icon of the January Revolution, and contented itself with dispersing the demonstrations and arresting about 140 demonstrators who did not adhere to government instructions, whether in terms of the duration of the demonstration or slogans. Which they raised, as some of them indicated that the goal of the demonstration was solidarity with Palestine, and not to delegate anything to any official, which represents a departure from the scenario drawn up for the protest.
These developments indicate the authorities’ desire to summon the street to confront American pressure, as well as provide safe paths to express popular anger.
Gradual official reaction
The official Egyptian reaction to the Israeli aggression was gradual, as it began with Sisi following the events from the first day from within the Strategic Crisis Management Center in the New Administrative Capital, and then the Egyptian National Security Council issued a statement stressing “the rejection and disapproval of the policy of displacement or attempts to liquidate the Palestinian issue at the expense of neighboring countries.” “Egypt’s national security is a red line.”
With the Israeli bombing of the Rafah crossing repeated 4 times, and the occupation’s insistence on refusing to bring in humanitarian aid in conjunction with cutting off water, electricity and fuel to the residents of Gaza, and calling on them to evacuate their homes, especially in the northern Gaza Strip, and exit towards Egypt, Al-Sisi stated that “the Israeli reaction exceeded the principle of the right to defend “Self to collective punishment,” amid government media coverage biased toward the resistance in an unprecedented way, then an official declaration of mourning for 3 days for the victims of the Baptist Hospital, and the authorities sponsoring popular demonstrations denouncing the aggression.
Egypt also organized an international peace summit with the participation of representatives from 31 countries and international bodies, including United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, to discuss developments in the situation in Gaza, but it did not produce tangible results as representatives of Western countries sought to include condemnation of Hamas in the final statement and support what they described. Israel’s right to self-defense, which led to no statement being issued at the end of the summit.
Cairo still refuses to open the Rafah crossing in one direction, insists on opening it in both directions, and seeks pressure to allow humanitarian aid to pass at a greater pace, given that the current convoys are limited to only 20 trucks each, which is of no avail in light of Israel’s cutting off water, fuel, and electricity from Gaza. .
With the outbreak of fighting, the Israeli authorities decided to close the Tamar gas field, which supplies gas to Egypt. Chevron also issued instructions to stop operating the East Mediterranean gas pipeline between Israel and Egypt, and to use the Arab gas pipeline that passes through Jordan instead, which affected the amount of gas. Israeli imports to Egypt decreased by 20%, which negatively affects Cairo, which has recently suffered a crisis in providing gas and diesel for power stations, in addition to its need for revenues in foreign currency that it obtains from liquefying and exporting gas.
On the ground, accident shares An Egyptian policeman killed two Israeli tourists In the city of Alexandria – on October 8, following their insistence on raising the Israeli flag – this prompted Tel Aviv to urge its citizens to leave Egypt quickly. Then came an incident where an Israeli tank fired a shell towards an Egyptian border guard tower, resulting in one injury. 9 Egyptian soldiers, one of whom later died as a result of his injury, which added more tension to relations between the two sides.
A different point of view
In contrast to the Egyptian authorities’ stated position of rejecting displacement, the Guardian newspaper indicated that Cairo is considering an offer to host about 100,000 Palestinians from Gaza in exchange for American financial aid, which indicates that the Egyptian position is subject to negotiation if a lucrative return is offered, and not a final, non-modifiable position. , as analysts see.
It was possible to host the displaced in the cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid, which were previously depopulated during the past decade. However, this option, if adopted, will not gain popular support. If the Israeli attacks continue, popular protests in Egypt are likely to increase, as the Palestinian issue is considered one of the issues that unites Egyptians of all orientations, according to observers.
As the unprecedented aggression against Gaza adds a new crisis to the circle of crises surrounding Egypt, according to analysts, which includes Libya and Sudan, with their internal divisions and fighting, and casts humanitarian, economic and political consequences on Egypt, which is suffering from a stifling economic crisis, it opens the door to risky scenarios. Amid fears of plans to bring Egypt to its knees, which has so far been unable to address these crises, in addition to the crisis of the Renaissance Dam and the Nile waters.