Israel-Palestine war: Egypt prepares for influx of refugees from Gaza amid bombing

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  October 9, 2023

Resources are being deployed in northern Sinai in anticipation of Palestinians fleeing the besieged strip, local media says.

Israel’s ongoing operations in the Gaza Strip are leaving Egypt braced for an influx of refugees, with resources being set up in North Sinai to take care of the wounded and homeless, a report by Mada Masr said on Monday.

The local news website spoke to tribal sources and eyewitnesses who said Israeli army deployments posted along the border with Egypt were evacuated on Sunday.

A government source told the news site that Egypt feared “a humanitarian catastrophe that we would not know how to deal with” and that the government was preparing tons of aid to be sent to the Gaza Strip in case the humanitarian situation worsened.

Egypt is also working to evacuate its diplomats and other nationals from the strip. They added that the government was waiting to see if it would need to step in to negotiate between Hamas and Israel.

The Israeli air force has dropped 2,000 munitions and more than 1,000 tons of bombs on Gaza in the last 20 hours, the army said on Monday morning, having shelled several high-rise residential buildings, mosques, hospitals, banks and other civilian infrastructure. 

At least 500 Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing raids, including 91 children. Another 2,700 people have been wounded. 

The bombardment comes as Palestinian armed groups continue to fight Israeli troops inside Israeli territory. 

The surprise Palestinian attack, which started on Saturday, has left at least 700 Israelis killed and more than 2,000 wounded.

Occupied territory

Gaza was part of historic Palestine prior to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Bordered by Israel and Egypt on the Mediterranean coast, the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

More than 60 percent of Palestinians in Gaza are refugees, following the expulsion of families from other parts of Palestine in the 1948 Nakba, or Catastrophe.

Gaza was captured by Egypt during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and was under Egyptian control until the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when the territory was seized and occupied along with the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In 2005, Israel purportedly pulled out of Gaza and relocated around 8,000 Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers living in 21 settlements around Gaza to the occupied West Bank.

But in 2007, following the Hamas movement’s election victory in Gaza, Israel responded by imposing an air, land and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip.

According to international law, the blockade amounts to an occupation of the strip.

Since 2008, Israel has launched four invasions of Gaza, in 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2021, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Palestinians, mostly civilians and many children.

The campaigns resulted in the destruction of homes and offices, damage to pipelines and sewage treatment infrastructure, impacting drinking water and spiking waterborne diseases. 

In the last major operation in 2021, at least 260 Palestinians were killed in Gaza while 13 people were killed in Israel.