Egypt Building Walled Camp in Sinai Desert to Absorb Palestinian Refugees from Gaza

Israel will likel try to push Palestinians from Rafah into the camp

February 15, 2024

Egypt is building an 8-square-mile walled enclosure in the Sinai Desert near Gaza to prepare for an influx of Palestinian refugees as Israel is vowing to launch an assault on Rafah, which borders Egypt and is packed with about 1.5 million Palestinians.

The revelation of Egypt’s construction, which was reported by The Wall Street Journal and an Egyptian rights group, signals Cairo is caving to Israeli pressure to allow Palestinians to enter its territory.

Egyptian officials told the Journal that more than 100,000 people would be able to fit into the camps they are constructing. If a mass exodus of Palestinians from Gaza does happen, the Egyptian officials said they want to limit the number of refugees they allow in to between 50,000 and 60,000.

The Sinai Foundation for Human Rights first reported on the construction on Wednesday and said the project is expected to be completed within 10 days. Egyptian officials told the Journal they expect a broad Israeli offensive on Rafah could start “within weeks.” Israel must be aware of the construction and will likely try to push as many Palestinians into the camp as it can.

Israeli government officials have not been shy about their desire to cleanse the Gaza Strip of its Palestinian population and re-establish Jewish settlements. A document prepared by Israel’s Intelligence Ministry that was leaked back in October said the best-case scenario for Israel would be to send all 2.3 million Palestinians living in Gaza into Egypt.

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But Cairo’s opposition to the plan caused Israeli officials to look elsewhere and suggest Western countries take in Palestinian refugees. According to Israeli media, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously said he was looking for countries to “absorb” Palestinians, but he’s cooled the rhetoric since the Biden administration criticized other Israeli ministers for making similar comments.

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