Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza
Rafah border between Egypt and GazaFlash 90

Egypt has sent messages to Israel warning that an influx of refugees from Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula will endanger the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.

Israel Hayom quoted one source as warning that Egypt's message was that "if even a single Palestinian refugee crosses - the peace agreement will be canceled." Another source told the site that the Egyptian message was softer, and said, "If even one Egyptian refugee crosses - the peace agreement will be suspended."

Both sources explained the harsh messages passed from Egypt to Israel with a mixture of anger and concern - anger at various statements and positions which recommended removing the Gazans from the Strip as a possible solution.

According to Israel Hayom, Egypt is worried about the passage of hundreds of thousands of refugees into Sinai, and that they may remain there. According to the source, no country will agree to such a large quantity of "Palestinian" refugees, and they will become "a permanent Egyptian problem," as one of the sources said. This worry stems from two main issues: Firstly, the Gazans will attempt to leave Gaza due to the worsening humanitarian conditions there. Secondly, the Gazans will attempt to escape due to fear of being harmed in the war.

For this reason as well, Egypt has told Israel that it vehemently opposes an expansion of the fighting in Rafah and Israeli control of the Philadelphi corridor. However, a Hamas military brigade, with four battalions, is operating out of Rafah, and it must be defeated in order to eliminate Hamas' military capabilities in Gaza. Control of the Philadelphi corridor is also necessary in order to prevent smuggling between Sinai and Gaza.

It is estimated that there are dozens of smuggling tunnels in the Rafah area, some of which are still operating today. Hamas used these tunnels in order to smuggle people, merchandise, and weapons (including some of those used in the October 7 massacre). Control of the Philadelphi corridor, however, will require a long-term military presence, until a more permanent solution is found for the smuggling problem.