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Israel and Egypt trade blame over Rafah Crossing closure

May 14, 2024 at 7:54 pm

A view of the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing following the Israeli occupation army’s takeover of the Palestinian side of the border on 7 May 2024 [Stringer/Anadolu via Getty Images]

Israel said, on Tuesday, that it was up to Egypt to re-open the Rafah Crossing and allow humanitarian relief into the Gaza Strip, prompting Cairo to denounce what it described as an attempt to shift the blame for the blockage of aid deliveries, Reuters reports.

The Rafah Crossing is on the border between Egypt and southern Gaza, and has been a vital route for aid going into the coastal territory.

“The key to preventing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza is now in the hands of our Egyptian friends,” Israel’s Foreign Affairs, Minister Katz, said in comments circulated to reporters.

Katz said he had spoken with his British and German counterparts about “the need to persuade Egypt to re-open the Rafah Crossing”, adding he would also speak with Italy’s Foreign Minister later on Tuesday.

The Palestinian group, Hamas, which has been running Gaza, will not “control the Rafah Crossing”, Katz said, citing security concerns over which Israel “will not compromise”.

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The comments drew a swift response from Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, which said in a statement that Israel was responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and that Israel’s military operations around Rafah were the main reason aid had been prevented from entering the enclave.

Egypt has consistently said the Crossing has remained open from its side throughout the conflict that began between Israel and Hamas on 7 October.

Cairo has been one of the mediators in stalled ceasefire talks, but its relationship with Israel has come under strain since Israeli forces seized the Rafah Crossing on 7 May.

The United Nations and other international aid agencies said the closing of two Crossings into southern Gaza – Rafah and Israeli-controlled Karm Abu Salem – had virtually cut the enclave off from outside aid.

The UN had already warned, prior to the closing of the two Crossings, that Gaza is on the brink of famine.

Israel launched its current Gaza offensive following an attack on 7 October by Hamas-led gunmen who rampaged through Israeli communities near the enclave, killing some 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

The Palestinian death toll in the war has now surpassed 35,000, according to Gaza health officials.

READ: Nothing wrong with Gaza death toll figures, WHO says