Egypt ready to temporarily secure Gaza crossings after Israeli withdrawal – report

Gianluca Pacchiani is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Egyptian army soldiers man an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) deployed near the Egyptian side of the Rafah Border Crossing with the Gaza Strip on March 23, 2024 (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)
Egyptian army soldiers man an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) deployed near the Egyptian side of the Rafah Border Crossing with the Gaza Strip on March 23, 2024 (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

Cairo reportedly announced its willingness to deploy its forces in the Gaza Strip for a limited period of time after a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces at the end of Israel’s war with Hamas, according to Egyptian sources quoted by the Qatari-owned Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper.

Egyptian troops operating under the UN would secure the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing as well as the other crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel and some points along the Gazan coast, but would not be present inside cities and residential areas, the report specifies.

Their deployment would cover the transitional phase between the full withdrawal of Israeli forces and the establishment of a Palestinian administration in the Strip.

Cairo’s military presence in postwar Gaza is said to have been discussed on the sidelines of a meeting that was reportedly convened in Bahrain last week between IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and senior generals from several Arab countries under the auspices of US CENTCOM.

According to a Western diplomatic source quoted by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, a tripartite meeting was held between Halevi, Egyptian Army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Osama Askar, and the commander of the US Central Command, Michael Kurilla.

The three main topics of discussion at the wider meeting, according to the Qatari outlet, were the need for a speedy halt to the war in Gaza; the activation of an early warning system against drones and ballistic missiles fired by Iran and its regional proxies; and securing maritime trade in the Red Sea from the Houthis.

Regarding the first point, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed quotes an Egyptian source saying that the Israeli army and the US administration have expressed a common goal to wrap up the war as soon as possible, even if political decision-makers in Israel do not agree.

As for the Iranian threat, Cairo has reportedly decided to stay out of a regional military alliance to counter Tehran, in light of ongoing consultations for a possible diplomatic rapprochement between the two countries.

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