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Why Won’t Egypt Let Palestinians Cross The Border?

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has become the focus of aid agencies as they desperately work to supply food, medicine and water to millions of displaced people.

Recent Israeli offences on the north of the Gaza Strip has forced 1.4 million Palestinians to flee to the southern city of Rafah, which is on the border of Egypt.

But is Egypt willing to accept these refugees?

Anas Iqtait from the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at ANU explains Arab countries’ role in the crisis:

Egypt and Jordan, which flank Israel on opposite sides and share borders with Gaza and the occupied West Bank, respectively, have refused to take Palestinian refugees.

Their refusal is rooted in fear that Israel wants to force a permanent expulsion of Palestinians into their countries and nullify Palestinian demands for statehood.

“It is Israel’s wishes, as articulated by many Israeli ministers in the beginning of this war, to depopulate the Gaza Strip, even resettle some of the Gaza Strip’s land by Israeli settlers,” Iqtait says.

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“This is vastly a refugee problem to begin with, and they have been living in refugee status… in this refugee camp since 1948.”

According to United Nations, Egypt, which is dealing with a spiralling economic crisis, already hosts some 9 million refugees and migrants.

Israel says it intends to destroy Hamas, but it has given no indication of what might happen afterward and who would govern Gaza.

This has raised concerns that Israel will reoccupy the territory and fuel further conflict.

Egypt has pushed for Israel to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. Israel said on Wednesday that it would, though it did not specify when.

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