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Egypt prepares for worst-case scenario as Israeli offensive in Rafah looms

Recent reports indicate Egypt is constructing a fenced-in zone south of the Rafah crossing from the Egyptian side in preparation for the exodus of Palestinians from Gaza.
UN senior humanitarian coordinator for Gaza arrives to cross the Rafah border into the Gaza Strip on Jan. 17, 2024.

CAIRO — As Egypt is racing to achieve a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas, it has increased the fortification of its border with the war-torn Gaza Strip due to concerns about Palestinians who are packed in the border city of Rafah potentially attempting to cross the border.

Israel has pledged to launch military operations into the city despite growing international outcry over the fate of the roughly 1.4 million Palestinians sheltering there. Egypt, for its part, has threatened to suspend its peace treaty with Israel over the move. Meanwhile, the Arab world’s most populous country has begun preparing for the possibility of Gazans storming the border and flocking to the Sinai Peninsula.

In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have already fled Israel's relentless bombardments of central Gaza and the city of Khan Younis to a tent city in Rafah on the Egyptian border, which was home to roughly 300,000 people before the war.

“The Israeli scheme of pushing Palestinians toward Egyptian borders has become closer than ever amid Israeli determination to launch its ground operation in Rafah," Mustafa Bakry, a prominent Egyptian lawmaker, told Al-Monitor

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