Egypt beefs up Gaza border with 40 tanks amid Rafah threat

Recent images depict heightened fortifications along the border, including barbed wire and expanded barriers, signaling Cairo’s proactive measures amid concerns of potential Palestinian influxes amid the ongoing conflict.

| Updated: 11 February, 2024 3:52 pm IST
Egypt deploys tanks to beef up border with Gaza as Rafah offensive looms

NEW DELHI: Egypt has reinforced its border security with the deployment of around 40 tanks and armoured personnel carriers to northeastern Sinai, in response to escalating tensions near Gaza’s southern city of Rafah.

Recent images depict heightened fortifications along the border, including barbed wire and expanded barriers, signaling Cairo’s proactive measures amid concerns of potential Palestinian influxes amid the ongoing conflict.

The move comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced plans for a military operation targeting Rafah, aiming to evacuate the city and dismantle alleged Hamas strongholds. Intensified Israeli airstrikes in the region have raised fears of displaced Palestinians seeking refuge, prompting Egypt to bolster its border defenses.

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Egypt has been swift in fortifying its border with Gaza, constructing a concrete wall topped with barbed wire, and implementing enhanced surveillance measures. Additional berms and barriers have been erected to prevent smuggling activities and unauthorised border crossings.

While Egypt and Israel have maintained a peace treaty for over four decades, recent tensions have strained their relationship. Egypt has expressed concerns over Israel’s military operations in Gaza and rejected proposals to retake control of the Gaza-Egypt border corridor, citing potential humanitarian crises and security threats.

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Amid ongoing discussions between the two countries regarding border security, Egypt has emphasised efforts to reach a ceasefire in Gaza. The state information service denounced accusations of smuggling as baseless propaganda aimed at justifying Israeli occupation of border areas.

In January, Egypt announced operations to tackle drug smuggling in northeastern Sinai, demonstrating its commitment to maintaining control of the region. However, Egyptian security sources have downplayed discussions of restructuring border security, prioritising efforts to reach a ceasefire in Gaza.

As tensions escalate and the spectre of a military offensive looms, Egypt remains vigilant in fortifying its border while advocating for peace and stability in the region. Diplomats and analysts underscore Egypt’s concerns about potential infiltration by Hamas and the implications of hosting a large refugee population, highlighting the complexities of the situation.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has warned that displacement could turn Sinai into a base for attacks against Israel, emphasising the importance of addressing the root causes of the conflict.

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