Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Wednesday that Egyptians would reject the forced displacement of millions of Palestinians into Sinai, adding that any such move would turn the peninsula into a base for attacks against Israel.
The Gaza Strip is effectively under Israeli control and Palestinians could instead be moved to Israel’s Negev desert “till the militants are dealt with”, Sisi told a joint news conference in Cairo with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
The border between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip is the site of the only land crossing from the Palestinian territory that is not controlled by Israel.
Israel’s unprecedented bombardment and siege of Gaza has raised fears that its 2.3 million residents could be forced southwards into Sinai.
“What is happening now in Gaza is an attempt to force civilian residents to take refugee and migrate to Egypt, which should not be accepted,” said Sisi.
“Egypt rejects any attempt to resolve the Palestinian issue by military means or through the forced displacement of Palestinians from their land, which would come at the expense of the countries of the region,” he said.
Sisi said the Egyptian people would “go out and protest in their millions… if called upon to do so” against any displacement of Gaza’s residents to Sinai.
A blast that hit a hospital in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening, killing hundreds of Palestinians, has unleashed new fury across the Middle East just as U.S. President Joe Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday on a desperate mission to try and calm emotions.
Sisi and other Arab leaders have pulled out of a planned meeting with Biden in protest over the blast and what they see as Washington’s pro-Israel bias.
Israel denied responsibility for the blast and said it was caused by a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, which denied blame.