Sources say Egypt is creating an area on the Gaza border that could be used as a shelter for Palestinians News

(Portal) Egypt is preparing an area on the Gaza border that could host Palestinians if an Israeli offensive on Rafah triggers an exodus across the border, four sources said, in what they described as a contingency plan for Cairo.

Egypt, which has denied such preparations, has repeatedly sounded the alarm about the possibility that the devastating Israeli offensive in Gaza could drive Palestinians into the Sinai which Cairo says would be completely unacceptable echoing the warnings of Arab states such as Jordan.


The United States has repeatedly stated that it would oppose any exodus of Palestinians from Gaza.

One of the sources said that Egypt was optimistic about negotiating a ceasefire that could prevent this scenario, but was establishing the border area as a temporary and preventive measure.

Three security sources said Egypt had begun preparing a desert area with some basic facilities that could be used to house Palestinians, stressing that this was an emergency measure.

The sources Portal spoke to on the matter did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Israel said it would launch an offensive to topple Hamas's “last stronghold” in Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have sought refuge from the devastating Gaza offensive.

Israel says its army is developing a plan to evacuate civilians from Rafah to other parts of the Gaza Strip.

But UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said on Thursday it was an “illusion” to believe people in Gaza could go to safety and warned of the possibility of Palestinians spreading into Egypt if Israel launches a military operation in Rafah.

He called this scenario “a kind of Egyptian nightmare.”

Egypt framed its opposition to the expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza as part of the broader Arab rejection of a repeat of the “Nakba,” or “catastrophe,” when some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in the War of Creation by Israel in 1948.

The first source said construction of the camp began three or four days ago and that it would provide temporary protection in any scenario where people cross the border “until a solution is found.”

Asked about the sources' reports, the head of Egypt's State Information Service said: “There is no truth in this. Our Palestinian brothers said and Egypt said that there was no preparation for this possibility.”

The Sinai Foundation for Human Rights, an activist organization, released images Monday purporting to show construction trucks and cranes working in the area, as well as images of concrete security barriers.

Citing an unnamed source, the Sinai Foundation said the construction work was intended to create a safe area in the event of a mass exodus of Palestinians.

Portal was able to confirm the location of part of the video as Rafah, based on the location of buildings, trees and fences that matched satellite images of the area.

Portal was unable to confirm the location of the full video or the date it was shot.

(Reporting by Portal journalists)