Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry deemed any attempts to misrepresent Egypt’s position on the Rafah crossing as “unacceptable,” during an interview with BBC World Service on Tuesday, 18 October. The FM highlighted Egypt’s efforts in managing the crisis as well as its position on accepting Palestinian refugees.
“The crossing has been subject to four aerial bombings by the Israeli side, and hence, it’s not functioning normally,” Shoukry told BBC.
“The crossing has never been officially closed by Egypt.”
In a separate interview with CNN, Shoukry stated that four Egyptian workers have been injured in the bombing of the Rafah crossing.
I just spoke with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry @MfaEgypt about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, opening the Rafah crossing, negotiations to release hostages, the massacres on October 7, and more. Watch our full conversation. pic.twitter.com/vNezn5F0ZF
— Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) October 17, 2023
“The Rafah crossing over the last days has been bombed four times,” Shoukry said. “Among them, once when we were trying to repair some of the damage, four Egyptian workers were injured.”
He also added that the crossing and the access roads linking the Egyptian and Gazan sides have sustained severe damage.
”We are in constant contact with all United Nations (UN) agencies to extract a safe passage for the relief aid,” Shoukry noted to BBC.
“There isn’t yet any sort of authorization for safe passages from the other side of the crossing,” he added.
The foreign minister also reiterated President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s statements on rejecting the forced displacement of Palestinians from their land.
“If you are asking me if Egypt can host 2.5 million inhabitants, I believe you can equally ask if the UK or any EU country can adopt this policy. We saw how countries complained against the influx of mere thousands of migrants, while Egypt hosts 9 million guests on its land,” Shoukry stressed.
The last strike on the Rafah crossing was on Monday, 16 October.
On the same day, Shoukry stated in a joint conference with France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs that Israel has not adopted a stance that would permit the opening of the Rafah crossing on the Gaza side.
“Israel is preventing aid from entering Gaza,” Shoukry explained.
He emphasized that Egypt and international agencies like the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are working together to coordinate urgent relief efforts for Gaza’s civilian population.
The first strike took place on Monday, 9 October, which temporarily halted traffic at the crossing. The next two strikes happened on the following day on Tuesday, 10 October, which damaged the hall on the Palestinian side.
The strikes came as part of Israel’s retaliatory bombing campaign following Hamas’ surprise attack on 7 October.
Over 3,000 people in Gaza have been killed by Israeli strikes since then.
THE CONFLICT SO FAR
On October 7, Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, which resulted in 1,400 Israelis and people of other nationalities getting killed, and more than 130 Israeli captives.
Following the attack, the Israeli Defense Forces announced a “large-scale operation to defend Israeli civilians.”
Since then, Israel has conducted over 1,000 airstrikes in Gaza; it ordered 1.1 million Palestinians in north Gaza to relocate to the south within 24 hours on 12 October and established a complete siege on Gaza, cutting water, food, fuel, and power for 2.2 million Palestinians.
As of Wednesday, October 18, the total death toll of Israel’s ongoing attack on Gaza has surpassed 3,000, with 12,500 more injured.
United States President Joe Biden arrived in Tel Aviv earlier today to show solidarity with Israel. His visit comes after the deadly strike on Gaza’s Al Ahli Arab Hospital, which killed more than 300 people, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.