Egypt fears that the “safe zones” or “humanitarian corridors” being implemented by Israel with US approval in north Gaza will serve as a prelude to the displacement of thousands of Palestinians from their land, an Egyptian official told The New Arab’s sister publication, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on Saturday.
The official, speaking under the condition of anonymity, also said that Egypt completely rejects the idea of transferring Palestinians from Gaza elsewhere, whether inside or outside the strip, as it considers any such displacement as tantamount to the eradication of the Palestinian cause.
Israel agreed to implement so-called “safe corridors” in Gaza on Thursday after talks with the Biden administration, whose National Security Council spokesperson, John Kirby, said would allow Palestinians in north Gaza to “safely” make their way to the south and would allow humanitarian aid to flow more freely.
However, Egypt considers the humanitarian justifications for the safe corridors offered by the US and Israel to be “deceitful”, claiming that they are being used to displace the population and move them to the Egyptian border.
The Egyptian government has made this stance clear to the US, the official confirmed.
This was evident in the speech of the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, at the Paris Conference on Thursday, where he warned against the use of “safe corridors”.
Shoukry said that providing safe passage to the south is not a positive development but a continuation of Israel’s policy of displacement, contrary to international humanitarian law.
This sentiment was echoed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk on Friday, who called the use of safe corridors or “safe zones” “alarming”, saying: “At the moment, nowhere in Gaza is safe”.
“It also needs to be absolutely clear that civilians are protected under international law wherever they are,” Turk added.
While Israel and the US are now pushing for safe corridors leading to south Gaza – which has been targetted by Israeli strikes, Egypt and the UN point out that forcing civilians to flee any area constitutes forced displacement and violates international law.
The use of “safe zones” or so-called “humanitarian corridors” for the purposes of displacing or cleansing civilians is something that has occurred in the recent past.
The Assad regime and Russia have used so-called “humanitarian corridors” in rebel-held and rebel-supporting parts of Syria to permanently relocate tens of thousands of Syrians in Aleppo, Daraa and Ghouta.
There are real fears within Egypt and among Palestinians that Israel’s intentions are to indefinitely force Gazans out of the north and either into the south of the enclave – or even into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Egypt and other critics point out that Israel continues to bombard southern Gaza, with fears that it is seeking to pressure Egypt to open the Rafah border to facilitate the mass displacement of Gazans.
Source: New Arab