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With talks deadlocked, Egypt has only limited options on Rafah

Israel's offensive in Rafah is testing its decades-old peace treaty with Egypt, which was outraged by its seizure of the Rafah crossing and the demilitarized Philadelphi Corridor between Gaza and Egypt.
An Egyptian army M60 main battle tank and an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) are deployed near the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip on March 23, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

CAIRO — Tensions between Egypt and Israel have soared since Israeli forces took control of the buffer zone on the border between Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and full control of the Philadelphi Corridor last week as US efforts to mediate a reopening of the Rafah crossing along that border have yet to yield results.

Rafah has become a symbol of the mounting tensions since Israeli forces began their offensive there May 6 in defiance of international warnings. The ongoing operation in Rafah has further strained ties between Egypt and Israel, jeopardizing their peace treaty.

In over a month of fighting, Israel wrested control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing, as well as the Philadelphi Corridor — the 9-mile-long demilitarized strip of land between Gaza and Egypt. The Israeli military announced that it had taken “operational” control of the buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza on May 29.

Shortly after the Israeli military took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing in early May, Cairo halted aid shipments to Gaza in protest. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi agreed to resume these shipments following a call with his US counterpart, Joe Biden, on May 24. Yet Egypt and Israel made no progress in US-mediated talks on June 2 to reopen the crossing after Israeli officials refused the Palestinian Authority any role in the operation of the crossing, Axios reported June 7.

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