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Amid Rafah air strikes, Egypt rebukes US

Updated on: 11 February,2024 04:54 AM IST  |  Tel Aviv
Agencies |

Egypt is speeding up ceasefire talks to prevent the IDF’s expansion into Rafah, with which it shares a border

Amid Rafah air strikes, Egypt rebukes US

Palestinians in Rafah search for their belongings at a destroyed building after an Israeli attack. Pic/Getty Images

The Egyptian presidency, in response to US President Joe Biden’s statement, has said that Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing to enable the flow of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip since “the first moment” of the Israel-Hamas conflict. “Egypt has mobilised massive humanitarian aid and relief from itself and other countries,” the presidency said on Friday, adding that the persistent bombing of the Palestinian side of the crossing by Israel four times obstructed the aid delivery process, Xinhua news agency reported.

On Thursday, speaking to reporters, Biden said, “Initially, the president of Mexico, Sisi, did not want to open the gate to (allow) humanitarian material to get in,” mistakenly calling Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi the leader of Mexico. “Egypt endured immense pressure and challenges to smooth the inflow and increase the amount of aid to Gaza,” the statement stressed, adding that 80 per cent of the aid provided to Gaza came from the Egyptian government, people and civil societies. The statement reiterated the Egyptian efforts to reach a ceasefire and protect the civilians.

Top Egyptian officials have reached Tel Aviv to accelerate ceasefire talks and a possible hostage release deal. Sources in the Israel defense ministry confirmed that a high-level Egyptian delegation has arrived in Israel and entered into talks with Mossad chief David Burnea. After a week-long ceasefire from November 24 to December 1, in which 105 Israeli hostages held in Gaza were released, the next round of discussions for the release of more hostages are struck with both sides not agreeing to the proposals put forward.

According to Israel intelligence officers, Hamas is insisting on the release of a large number of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails for the release of 35 hostages in its custody. Israel has flatly rejected the demand for the withdrawal of its troops from Gaza and have told negotiators that such a deal will never happen. Another major reason for the arrival of the Egyptian delegation is to ask the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to not expand operations into the Rafah region which shares borders with Egypt.

Netanyahu’s “inevitable” invasion

Israeli air strikes killed at least 28 Palestinians in Rafah early Saturday, hours after Israel’s prime minister said he asked the military to plan for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people from the southern Gaza city ahead of a ground invasion. Benjamin Netanyahu did not provide details or a timeline, but the announcement set off widespread panic. More than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are packed into Rafah, many after being uprooted repeatedly by Israeli evacuation orders that now cover two-thirds of Gaza’s territory. It’s not clear where they could run next. Israel has carried out airstrikes in Rafah almost daily, even after telling civilians in recent weeks to seek shelter there from ground combat in the city of Khan Younis.

Egypt’s contribution to total aid given to Gaza

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