Is Egypt building a wall near Gaza Strip to stop Palestinian refugees amid war?

Egypt is reportedly constructing a wall in the Sinai Desert near Gaza as it fears that Israel’s Rafah operation could lead to Palestinians attempting to take shelter in the Egyptian territory. The Wall Street Journal reported that work is underway on a 20 square kilometer walled enclosure near the Gaza Strip that could house over 100,000 people. Using this, Egypt is trying to limit the number of Palestinians in the walled area to 50,000 to 60,000 in case large numbers of refugees flee.

Israel-Hamas War: Displaced Palestinians camp near the border fence between Gaza and Egypt, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.(AFP)

Egypt officials said as per the outlet that Palestinians would be barred from leaving the area unless they are leaving for another country. At the same time, travel restrictions in northern Sinai would also be tightened, they said while local governor denied the claims saying that the construction was part of damage assessment.

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Earlier, the New York Times shared a short video clip showing several construction vehicles south of Rafah. In Rafah- near the Egypt-Gaza border- Israel’s operation is expected while US and Tel Aviv’s allies warned of humanitarian dangers in the area where the United Nations believes that more than one million Gazans could be sheltering.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said that Cairo is committed to upholding its peace treaty with Israel.

“We will continue our efforts with both parties to reach an agreement that leads to the release of hostages and prisoners and ensuring the entry of aid into the Gaza Strip,” he said talking about ongoing efforts to forge a truce deal between Israel and Hamas. Qatar and US are also involved in the process of initiating a peace deal, it was earlier reported.

A report by Israel’s Intelligence Ministry which was drafted just six days after Hamas’ October 7 attack in Israel, included a proposal of moving Gaza’s civilian population to tent cities in the northern Sinai. It also included building permanent cities in the area which could be an undefined humanitarian corridor, Associated Press reported.

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