Egypt’s Sinai construction doesn’t provide safety for Palestinians, it supports Israel’s ethnic cleansing

Israel has been clear about its plans to force Palestinians from Gaza, and Egypt is now reportedly building an area to receive them. Palestinians need a respite from Israel's brutality, but mass displacement into the Sinai would be a catastrophe

A solider closes the gate to enter the Rafah border crossing to Egypt in the southern gaza strip on 1 November 2023

Heba Gowayed writes in Mondoweiss on 19 February 2024:

Egypt is building a six-meter high wall in the Sinai near the Gaza Strip that is reportedly intended to close off an area of eight square kilometers to receive Palestinians from Gaza in the event of a mass exodus. While the construction implies a respite to the brutality of Israeli bombardment for Gazans, their mass displacement into the Sinai would be a human rights catastrophe.

Over the last four months, Israel has devastated Gaza claiming the lives of almost 29,000 people through bombardment and depriving its two-million-person population from access to food and medicine. Protests in Cairo and elsewhere have called on Egypt to open the Rafah crossing, the only border of Gaza not controlled directly by Israel. Egyptian authorities have long maintained the Israeli blockade of Gaza by closing the Rafah crossing more days than it was open, evicting and demolishing the homes and businesses of residents of the Sinai to create a “buffer zone,” and flooding tunnels that were a lifeline for Gaza’s residents.

Since October 7, a “woefully inadequate” amount of aid has been allowed to enter, and a limited number of exits have been authorized. People are desperately fundraising for the thousands of dollars in bribes demanded by Egyptian authorities to permit each person to cross.

It is without question that Gazans should, like all people in the world, have a right to safety from bombardment and freedom of mobility. The wall being built on the Egyptian border, however, promises neither.

News of the wall’s construction coincides with Netanyahu’s announcement of a ground offensive in Rafah, which currently hosts 1.1 million Palestinians who moved to this so-called “safe zone” after being given 24 hours to forcibly vacate Gaza’s north. On October 13, during the same 24 hours as this directive, a document was drafted by Israel’s Interior Ministry describing an ultimate plan to displace Gaza’s two million residents into the Egyptian Sinai.

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