Officials say Egypt has threatened to suspend the main peace treaty if Israel pushes into Rafah on its border
RAFAH (Gaza Strip) – Egypt has threatened to suspend its peace treaty with Israel if Israeli forces are sent to the densely populated border city of Rafah, where it says fighting could close the main aid supply route to the besieged Strip. Two Egyptian officials and a Western diplomat said on Sunday.
The threat to suspend the Camp David Accords, which have represented the cornerstone of regional stability for nearly half a century, came after the Prime Minister announced Benjamin Netanyahu He said that sending forces to Rafah was necessary to win the elections Four months war Against the Palestinian Hamas movement.
More than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled to Rafah to escape fighting elsewhere, living in sprawling camps and UN-run shelters near the border. Egypt fears a mass influx of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees Who may never be allowed back.
The confrontation between Israel and Egypt, two close allies of the United States, took shape when aid groups warned that the attack on Rafah would worsen the already disastrous humanitarian situation in Gaza, where about 80% of the population has fled their homes and where the United Nations says A quarter of the population faces famine.
Al-Aqsa TV, affiliated with the Hamas movement, quoted an unnamed Hamas official as saying that any invasion of Rafah would “explode.” Talks mediated by the United States, Egypt and Qatar With the aim of achieving a ceasefire and releasing the Israeli hostages.
Where will civilians go?
Netanyahu, in an interview on ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” suggested that civilians in Rafah could flee north, saying there were “a lot of areas” that the army had cleared. He said Israel was developing a “detailed plan” to “relocate” them.
But the Israeli attack caused Widespread destructionEspecially in northern Gaza, violent battles are still taking place in central Gaza and the city of Khan Yunis, south of it. In Gaza City on Sunday, remaining residents covered decomposing bodies in the streets or carried corpses to graves. Some streets were filled with sand resulting from the explosions. Smoke rose from the destroyed buildings.
A ground operation in Rafah could cut off one of the only means of delivering aid to Gaza Food and medical supplies are urgently needed.
The three officials confirmed the Egyptian threats and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists on the sensitive negotiations. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries also warned against this Serious repercussions If Israel enters Rafah.
“The Israeli attack on Rafah will lead to an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe and serious tensions with Egypt,” Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, wrote on the X website.
The white house that Weapons rushed to Israel Protecting it from international calls for a ceasefire, Israel warned against launching a ground operation in Rafah under the current circumstances, considering that it would be a “disaster” for civilians.
Israel and Egypt fought five wars before signing the Camp David Accords, a historic peace treaty brokered by then US President Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s. The treaty includes several provisions governing the deployment of forces on both sides of the border.
Egypt has heavily fortified its border with Gaza, establishing a 5-kilometre (3-mile) buffer zone and erecting concrete walls above and below ground. It denied Israeli allegations that Hamas was running smuggling tunnels under the border, saying Egyptian forces had full control over its side.
Egyptian officials fear that if the border is breached, the army will not be able to stop a wave of people fleeing to the Sinai Peninsula.
The United Nations says Rafah, which is usually inhabited by fewer than 300,000 people, is now hosting 1.4 million More have fled the fighting elsewhere, which is “severely overcrowded”.
Netanyahu said that Hamas still has four brigades there. “Those who say we should not enter Rafah under any circumstances are basically saying lose the war, keep Hamas there,” he told ABC News.
112 bodies were transferred to Gaza hospitals in one day
Israel has ordered a large portion of Gaza’s population to flee to the south, with evacuation orders covering two-thirds of the Strip, although it regularly carries out air strikes in all areas, including Rafah. Air raids on the town in recent days led to the killing of dozens of Palestinians, including women and children.
Ministry of Health in Gaza He said on Sunday that the bodies of 112 people killed across the region had been transferred to hospitals during the past 24 hours, in addition to 173 wounded. This brings the death toll in the Gaza Strip to 28,176 since the beginning of the war. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and fighters, but says that most of the dead were women and children.
The war began with Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7, when Palestinian militants killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and kidnapped about 250. More than 100 hostages were released in November during a week-long ceasefire in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinian prisoners. Some of the remaining hostages died.
Hamas said it would not release any more prisoners unless Israel stopped its attack and withdrew from Gaza. It also demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including top militants serving life sentences.
Netanyahu ruled out both demands, saying that Israel would continue fighting until “complete victory” and the return of all hostages.
Magdy reported from Cairo.
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(Tags for translation) Camp David Accords