Despite Egypt’s continuous and public opposition to Gazans entering its territory following Israel's war against Hamas, Cairo is preparing for the possibility such a scenario would happen against its will.
Arab newspaper Al-Akhbar quoted sources on Saturday claiming that Egypt is exploring ways to deal with the Palestinian migration that may begin in early 2024. One option the country is looking into is the possibility that other countries will agree to host the Gazans who’ll be allowed to leave via the Rafah border crossing.
According to this scenario, Egypt will accept hundreds of thousands of Gazans based on criteria related to medical and humanitarian conditions, or those with immigration visas, foreign student visas, etc.
These individuals will stay in Egypt for a limited period at the beginning before moving to other countries where they’ll receive special status. According to sources who spoke with the newspaper, the change in Cairo's position comes from the understanding that the Strip’s destruction is still ongoing, and the assumption that Israel will prevent attempts at reconstruction and limit humanitarian aid further, making life in Gaza difficult.
Egypt has started examining whether Arab countries in North Africa and the Gulf States will agree to receive immigration quotas. Meanwhile, Cairo is seeking broad economic support from Europe, the United States and other Arab states. Egypt is also interested in promoting scholarships for Gazan students in the West and Turkey, allowing them to move there with their families.
Nevertheless, Egypt is still investing considerable efforts in trying to prevent mass migration from the Gaza Strip to its territory. According to Al-Akhbar, during his visit to the United States in recent days, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told his American counterparts that Israel's ongoing policy may lead to the termination or freezing of the peace agreement between the countries.
Egypt clarified to the U.S. that the displacement of Gazans into its territory threatens its security and turns the Sinai Peninsula into a hostile area, also affecting Israel. Additionally, it was reported that the country is trying to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid shipments into the Gaza Strip and ease their inspection at the border, fearing that shortages in the Strip may expedite the process of Gazans demanding entry.
UK-based Arab news outlet Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that due to the IDF's ground operation and the push of Gazan residents to the southern part of the Strip, no space is left for their arrival in Rafah.
As a result, tents have been set up in the area, less than a kilometer from the border with Egypt. Sources informed the newspaper that the Egyptian army has recently set up barriers, and reinforced its forces in the Egyptian side of Rafah, fearing that Palestinians may attempt to cross the border.