Home News Israel’s occupation of Gaza border leads to tensions with Egypt

Israel’s occupation of Gaza border leads to tensions with Egypt


But Egypt has not taken tougher measures against Israel. Unlike Jordan, Egypt has not withdrawn its ambassador from Tel Aviv.

“No one wants an escalation, so I’m sure they will find a solution that will satisfy the Israeli side,” said Mohamed Anwar el-Sadat, an independent Egyptian politician and nephew of the president who signed the 1979 treaty. “It is in the interest of both of us to reach an understanding or agreement to avoid any kind of confrontation.”

The government-run news media appears to be helping to curb public anger.

Before Israel announced it had taken control of the Philadelphia corridor, rhetoric in the news media bordered on bellicosity. Ahmed Moussa, a well-known talk show host, wrote in a column in Egypt’s flagship daily Al-Ahram on May 17: “Egypt is ready for all scenarios and will not allow any direct or indirect violation of its sovereignty and national security.”

However, after Israel seized the corridor, Mr Moussa lashed out at social media users on television, saying it made Egypt look weak. He linked the “accusations” to the Muslim Brotherhood, a political Islamist group that has Hamas as an offshoot and has long been demonised by the Egyptian government as a terrorist organisation.

“The Philadelphia corridor is not Egyptian territory,” Mr. Moussa said, showing a large map during a nine-minute segment on the issue. “This is Palestinian territory. It does not belong to us.”

Israel’s relations with Egypt have weathered wars and the Palestinian uprising, the 2011 Egyptian revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak and the brief presidency of senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, who won Egypt’s first free elections a year later.

Rafah and the eight-mile-long Philadelphi corridor have often been points of connection and friction between Egypt and Israel, which jointly imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas seized control of the coastal enclave just as Egypt and Israel agreed on the number of troops that could be stationed around the buffer zone.

But the smuggling issue remains controversial. When Israel unilaterally withdrew its troops and Jewish settlers from Gaza in 2005, many Israeli strategists said it was a mistake to cede the passage to smugglers. The Rafah crossing became a major conduit for arms smuggling after Hamas came to power, and it peaked when security collapsed during the turbulent years of Morsi’s presidency, current and former Israeli officials said.

But Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who ousted Morsi in a 2013 military coup and became president a year later, has since developed a close security partnership with Israel because the two countries share an interest in stamping out an insurgency in Egypt’s northern Sinai region, which borders Gaza and Israel.

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