A senior Egyptian official has reportedly mockingly demanded that Europe take in one million Gazan refugees if it cares “about human rights so much”, as Cairo continues to grow ever more frustrated with pressure to open its border crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip and take in fleeing Palestinians.
According to the Financial Times, an anonymous European official was informed of Egypt’s frustration with the European and Western nations’ insistence on accepting refugees waiting at the Rafah crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border. “You want us to take one million people?” an unnamed senior Egyptian official asked him. “Well, I am going to send them to Europe. You care about human rights so much – well, you take them.”
The European official stressed to the paper that the “Egyptians are really, really angry” at the pressure on them to open the border crossing and take in the roughly one million Gazans attempting to seek refuge from Israel’s ongoing bombardment of the besieged land strip.
One of Israel’s key aims in the intensification of its bombardment of Gaza and its people is to push Palestinians in the Strip further to the south to the Rafah border in order to force them into exile within Egypt’s Sinai desert.
Cairo has, so far, resisted these efforts by reinforcing its border with concrete blocks. Although it has attempted to claim good intentions such as not wanting to see the Palestinians further displaced from their land, the Egyptian government’s main reasoning is its fear that the longer Israel’s assault on Gaza continues, the more Egypt will face pressure to accept an inflow of refugees and the economic burden that comes with them.
If Palestinians are eventually allowed to cross the Egypt-Gaza border, there is reportedly the real possibility that they would be allowed only as far as the 8.5-mile buffer zone in Rafah, meaning they could be trapped in a state of limbo.