Egypt builds a wall near its border with Gaza

The construction appears to be in anticipation of an Israeli attack on the border town of Rafah.

According to satellite images provided by Maxar Technologies and analyzed by The Associated Press, Egypt is constructing a wall and clearing land near its border with the Gaza Strip, in anticipation of an Israeli attack on the border town of Rafah.

Egypt has not confirmed the construction, but has repeatedly cautioned Israel against forcing the over one million Palestinians who are now homeless in Rafah to cross the border into its territory, as Israeli forces battle the Hamas terrorist group for the fifth month in a row.

However, the activities on the Egyptian side of the border, in the Sinai Peninsula, indicate that Cairo is getting ready for that situation, which could endanger its 1979 peace treaty with Israel, which has been a pillar for regional stability.

The Egyptian government did not reply to AP’s requests for comment on Friday. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry released a statement on February 11 warning Israel about its potential attack on Rafah and its “relocation of the Palestinian people.”

Satellite images, taken on Thursday by Maxar Technologies, show the ongoing building of the wall, which is situated along the Sheikh Zuweid-Rafah highway, about 3.5 kilometers west of the Gaza border. Images show cranes, trucks and what look like precast concrete blocks placed along the road.

These satellite images match images from a video posted on February 12 by the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights, based in London. The video shows a crane lifting concrete walls along the road.

The construction “aims to create a closed and isolated high-security area near the border with the Gaza Strip, in preparation for the arrival of Palestinian refugees in case of a large-scale exodus,” the foundation says.

Also nearby, construction workers seem to be leveling and clearing land for unknown reasons. This can also be seen in Planet Labs PBC images of the area. The Wall Street Journal, quoting unnamed Egyptian officials, reported “a 20-square-kilometer walled enclosure” being built in the area that could accommodate more than 100,000 people.

Houses and farmland in the area had previously been destroyed during Egypt’s war against an affiliate of the Islamic State group in the area.

Hardline officials in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government have suggested expelling Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, something that is strongly opposed by Israel’s main ally, the United States. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank are territories that the Palestinians want for their future state.

An Israeli Intelligence Ministry report, written just six days after the brutal October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip, in which 1,200 people died and more than 250 were taken hostage, included a proposal to move the civilian population of Gaza to tent cities in northern Sinai, to later build permanent cities and an indefinite humanitarian corridor.

Since then, the war between Israel and Hamas has ruined large parts of the coastal strip and killed more than 28,600 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry.

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