December 5, 2023 | Flash Brief

Egypt Accepts Only Small Number of Temporarily Displaced Gazans

December 5, 2023 | Flash Brief

Egypt Accepts Only Small Number of Temporarily Displaced Gazans

Latest Developments

Nearly 600 foreigners and dual nationals and 25 wounded Palestinians exited Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah crossing on December 4, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Additionally, Egyptian border officials reported that 871 dual nationals passed through Rafah between December 2 and 3, including 17 American citizens, as well as Turkish, Egyptian, South African, German, Canadian, Australian, and Danish nationals. Rafah is currently the only possible exit from Gaza by land, but Cairo continues to allow only limited evacuations of foreign passport holders and wounded civilians. Most of Gaza’s civilian population remains stuck in the enclave.

Expert Analysis

“As Israel ramps up its fight against Hamas in Gaza, life is going to become increasingly intolerable for innocent Palestinian civilians in the strip. Now is the time for Egypt, alongside Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to put action behind its words about caring for Gazans by providing temporary housing in northern Sinai. The two rich Gulf states should pay for them. The presence of a stable, non-terrorist entity in a future Gaza would benefit Egypt on multiple fronts — it would improve Egypt’s security situation and provide ample opportunities for enhanced trade.” — Haisam Hassanein, FDD Adjunct Fellow

“Despite maintaining some diplomatic relations with Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, Egypt is cautious about allowing a large number of Palestinians into its territory. This is mainly because it wants to avoid false implications of being a partner in the displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, which could irk other Arab nations.”Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Egypt and Jordan Refuse Refugees

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi said on October 12 that Egypt will not absorb Gaza refugees because “it’s important for [Gaza’s] people to stay steadfast and exist on its land.” Jordan’s King Abdullah said on October 17 that Jordan and Egypt will not accept refugees from Gaza. “That is a red line,” he said.

No Israeli Intentions in Sinai

Cairo has long believed that Israel wants to resettle Palestinians in the Sinai Peninsula in lieu of establishing an independent Palestinian state. Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Amira Oron confirmed on October 10 that Israel has “no intentions” regarding the Sinai Peninsula. Israel has “not asked the Palestinians to move there … Sinai is Egyptian territory,” she said.

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

If Egypt supports Gazans, it should offer them temporary housing,” by Haisam Hassanein

Hamas’s Enablers Should Take Gaza Refugees,” by Mark Dubowitz and Jonathan Schanzer

Egypt, Jordan, and Other Arab Governments Reject Gazan Refugees,” FDD Flash Brief

Issues:

Arab Politics Egypt Gulf States Israel Israel at War Jordan Palestinian Politics