1708129296 Egypt is building a wall near the Gaza Strip as

Egypt is building a wall near the Gaza Strip as an Israeli offensive on Rafah looms

World News

Israel-Hamas war

Published February 16, 2024, 10:58 a.m. ET

Egypt is building its own border wall with Gaza as officials in the Arab country fear a possible influx of Palestinian refugees if Israel goes ahead with plans for a ground offensive in the southern border town of Rafah, satellite images showed this week.

Images taken on Thursday show cranes, trucks and prefabricated concrete barriers being erected along the Sheikh Zuweid-Rafah road – which stretches across the entire Egyptian-Rafah border.

An engineer and a contractor told the New York Times that they had received a contract from the Egyptian army to build a 16-foot-tall wall covering an area of ​​about three square miles and began work on the wall on Wednesday.

Satellite images show Egypt is building a wall and leveling land near its border with Gaza ahead of a planned Israeli offensive against the border town of Rafah. Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies/AFP via Getty Images

The construction is intended to “create a highly secure, closed and isolated area near the border with the Gaza Strip, in preparation for receiving Palestinian refugees in the event of.” [a] Mass exodus,” according to the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights Posted on X

According to the Wall Street Journal, other satellite images showed land being cleared nearby between February 4 and 14 for what is believed to be an 8-square-mile walled enclosure in the Sinai Desert.

More than 100,000 refugees could be housed in the camp, which would be surrounded by concrete walls and located far from Egyptian cities, unidentified officials and security analysts told the Journal.

But officials would like to limit capacity to just 50,000 or 60,000 as Egyptian officials remain concerned about security risks posed by the potential refugees.

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The Journal reports that anyone allowed into the restricted area will not be allowed to leave unless they are traveling to another country.

Egypt has reportedly repeatedly warned Israel against forcibly expelling the more than one million Palestinians displaced in Rafah across the border. via Portal

The construction appears to be the Egyptian government's latest attempt to stop Palestinians from crossing the border.

A Gaza official in Rafah estimates that more than 100,000 displaced Palestinians are staying in camps on the Egyptian border, and a Palestinian woman, Fatima Majdi Hamouda, told the Journal that they “will go straight to Sinai if the bombing in Rafah ends.” “aggravated”.

To prevent them from entering the country, Egyptian officials have increased the security presence on the Gaza border for weeks by deploying more troops and machinery and fortifying checkpoints with more soldiers, according to CNN.

The main road is also being prepared for the use of tanks and military machines, a witness told the news station.

She also warned of “serious consequences” of an Israeli military operation in Rafah, which could potentially threaten the end of Egypt's long-standing peace agreement with the Jewish nation.

Officials also called on Israel “not to take any action that would further complicate the situation and invariably harm the interests of all parties involved.”

The images show cranes, trucks and what appear to be prefabricated concrete barriers being erected along the road. via Portal

But Israeli officials have insisted that civilians forced to leave their homes in Gaza will be allowed to return, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has assured the US that they would create a safe corridor to allow Palestinians in Rafah to escape to the north.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz also suggested at a Munich security conference that Palestinians in Rafah could go to Khan Younis once it was cleared of Hamas terrorists, according to the Guardian.

He also insisted that the Israeli government would work with its Egyptian counterparts before a siege on Rafah – where the last members of the Hamas terror network may allegedly be hiding.

“We will deal with Rafah after discussing it with Egypt,” he said.

“We will coordinate it, we have a peace agreement with them and we will find a place that will not harm the Egyptians.

“We will coordinate everything and not harm their interests.”

Meanwhile, experts say it was a strategic decision by Egypt to secure the border and build a walled city for possible refugees.

Homes and farmland in the area had previously been razed during Egypt's war against an affiliate of the Islamic State group in the area. Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies/AFP via Getty Images

That way, the Arab country could agree to accept a limited number of Palestinian refugees in exchange for financial or other incentives, according to Mohannad Sabry, an Egyptian security analyst.

“It is a multi-pronged effort by Egypt to counter any scenarios that do not meet its accepted conditions,” he told the Journal.

“Even if the Israelis push a million and a half people to flee across the border, Egypt can put the ball back in Israel’s lap by simply restricting the movement of Palestinians further inside.”

However, Egyptian officials have so far denied that they are building border walls.

The governor of the North Sinai region said Thursday the construction was simply part of an inventory of homes destroyed during Egypt's past military campaign against the Islamic State.

Still, he told Saudi television news channel Al Arabiya: “Egypt is prepared for all scenarios in the event that Israel carries out military operations in the Palestinian border area.”

With post wires.

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