November 1, 2023 | Flash Brief

Egypt Opens Its Border to Gaza Wounded, Foreigners

November 1, 2023 | Flash Brief

Egypt Opens Its Border to Gaza Wounded, Foreigners

Latest Developments

Egypt opened up its border with the Gaza Strip on November 1 to admit wounded Palestinians and foreign passport holders fleeing the Hamas-Israel war. Hundreds of people crossed the Rafah border terminal into the Egyptian Sinai after Cairo announced what it described as a temporary measure to help ease the medical burden in Gaza.

Israel and Egypt consulted on the identities of those making the crossing — an apparent precaution against Hamas terrorists seeking a Sinai sanctuary. Western embassies in Israel and Egypt were also informed in advance about the departure of their countries’ citizens from Gaza.

Hospitals on the Egyptian side of Rafah and in the port town of al-Arish were preparing beds for the Gaza wounded. There were reports of a field hospital being set up in the Sinai Peninsula. The French navy has sent a hospital ship to the eastern Mediterranean to help with medical treatment, but it was not immediately clear how Gazans in need might be brought aboard.

Separately, the Health Ministry in Gaza, which is run by the Hamas government, said three hospitals could be hours after away from running out of fuel to power their electricity generators.

Yet Hamas has a history of diverting humanitarian supplies in Gaza from the Palestinian civilians for whom they are intended. “Petrol will not enter Gaza,” said Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, on October 24. “Hamas takes the petrol for its military infrastructure.”

Expert Analysis

“This is a significant shift for Egypt, which until now has allowed the Rafah crossing to be used to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza but has balked at admitting anything beyond a strict quota of Palestinians with travel visas from the enclave. For Cairo, the idea of the Sinai serving as a temporary haven for Gaza refugees is still a red line. Perhaps this interim measure will signal more flexibility down the line. Israel has made clear that, for the course of this war and thereafter, it will bear no responsibility for running or supplying Gaza. It is time for Egypt to step up and shoulder more of the burden.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“The opening of Egyptian alternatives for Gazans in need of medical treatment could enable the evacuation of patients from hospitals beneath which Hamas is concealing its terrorist infrastructure. Clearly, Hamas would not want that. To preserve healthcare facilities as human shields, Hamas will dole out enough fuel to keep the hospitals running, thus preserving their official function, in addition to blocking any attempt by their patients to relocate southward. This spells a humanitarian shell-game of the most cynical kind.” — Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

U.S. Seeks to Help Americans Leave Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel war: Why wouldn’t Egypt want Gazan refugees?” by Haisam Hassanein

Hamas Exploits Suffering in Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Points to Hamas’s Hoarding of Gaza Fuel,” FDD Flash Brief


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