U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Israel and has pledged U.S. support as the Israeli military bombards Hamas-ruled Gaza with airstrikes, and is preparing for a possible ground invasion. Hamas jihadis have fired thousands of rockets into Israel, and continue to do so. Egypt has now committed to providing humanitarian aid, but it has shut down its border to Palestinian refugees from Gaza. Israel also currently refuses to allow goods to enter Gaza “until around 150 hostages taken captive by Hamas during a weekend attack are freed.” 2.3 million people are now blockaded between Israel and Egypt. The bottom line is that while Egypt is willing to serve as a mediator and even to advance the view that Israel return to pre-1967 borders, its president, Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, is committed to his own country’s security interests. Egypt fears what Gazans may bring into Egypt if it opens its borders.
As result of the high level of terrorist activity and threat among Palestinians over the decades, Egypt is shutting down the only other escape route from Gaza besides Israel—the Rafah crossing. According to Reuters:
Egypt has long restricted the flow of Gazans on to its territory, even during the fiercest conflicts. Cairo, a frequent mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, always insists the two sides resolve conflicts within their borders, saying this the only way Palestinians can secure their right to statehood.
Gaza is saturated with jihadists, and Palestinians are now facing the ruins of a war that was started by Hamas — the jihadist group that Palestinians themselves chose to rule Gaza — an area also dominated by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Both groups have worked hard to stir Palestinian zeal, even on a global level. Hamas is also supported by the global Muslim Brotherhood and Hizballah, which has been warned by America and Western allies to stay out of the war. Fatah, meanwhile, has praised Hamas and vowed to expand the war to Judea and Samaria. Iran is the chief funder and eternal instigator of all this. To further complicate matters, ISIS flags were discovered on the bodies of Hamas jihad terrorists in Kibbutz Sufa after its attack on that community.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has stated that “guarding Egypt’s national security is his top responsibility, and there will be no compromise or complacency under any circumstances.”
Most Palestinians collectively ascribe to the jihadist obliteration of Israel: two-thirds of Palestinians actually believe that Israel would not exist in 25 years. Aside from children, they are not victims of their leadership; nor are they innocent bystanders. Palestinians, Hamas and other jihad terror groups work in synergy. One can observe the strength of the Palestinian “resistance,” which has even won acceptance at the highest levels of American politics. The mainstreaming of the Palestinian cause is apparent in protests across North America, as multitudes of demonstrators cheer on the savagery of Hamas. Palestinians are heavily indoctrinated from early childhood to hate Jews, and are even motivated toward martyrdom. They are indoctrinated at jihad summer camps, and are continuously exposed to antisemitic school curricula.
HAMAS is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement. Hamas leaders “see themselves as a ‘resistance’ organization, and they worry that if they lay down their arms, they will be outflanked by more radical factions within the Palestinian community and, like Fatah before them, lose their credibility among ordinary Palestinians.”
The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found “a dramatic surge in Palestinian support for Hamas” following the Gaza war of 2021, when Hamas attacked Israel with rocket fire, and Israel responded with Operation Guardian of the Walls. According to the Associated Press, the Palestinians viewed Hamas as “victors in a battle against Israel to defend Jerusalem and its holy sites.”
The Palestinians gave Hamas reason to intensify its “resistance,” and Hamas rose to the challenge, committing unimaginable atrocities against women, elderly people and even infants, who were beheaded along with IDF soldiers. Now Hamas is calling on Gazans to be human shields:
Hamas’ Interior Ministry: “We again call on [Gazan] citizens not to cooperate with the recorded phone messages that the occupation (i.e., Israel) is sending at random, asking people to leave their homes”
Again Hamas proves that its “resistance” is worth more than Palestinian lives, and the group may get its wish one way or another.
What brought El-Sisi to this point began with the turbulence that resulted in the 2013 military coup against Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, along with his party. The Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed in Egypt, was an ideological ally of Hamas (an offshoot of the Brotherhood). Tensions flared when el-Sisi took a tough stance against Hamas “and ordered the destruction of a network of smuggling tunnels that had sustained Gaza’s economy.” Egypt also “retrospectively accused” Hamas of involvement in its 2011 revolution.
Although Egypt largely relaxed its border controls in 2018, and has improved its relations with Hamas over time, terrorism concerns persist. This is clear from Egypt’s latest decision to lock out Gazans. A further reason for Egypt’s reluctance to open its border to Gaza is that Sinai has seen ongoing of jihad fighting for over a decade. Egypt’s military has in recent years largely succeeded in asserting its control over northern Sinai, but the area still faces sporadic attacks.
Palestinians are now stuck in Gaza. As Egypt moves to protect its own interests, it will continue to exert strenuous efforts for an Israeli ceasefire. As the war continues, Egypt must balance its own interests with key players on both sides of the fence. On one side is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which has fully embraced its “brothers” of “Palestine”; and on the other, is Israel and its Western allies; El-Sisi has in the past bent over backwards to prove himself “moderate.” Egypt’s desire to see a ceasefire will become more urgent in times ahead, as it has shut down the one route that could give Palestinians a respite, in a war where Israel’s new unity government has formed a war cabinet and vows to “crush Hamas.”