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Images show Egypt constructing wall near Rafah border

The area where the video was filmed has since been completely cleared out by the Egyptian government, something that's visible in satellite imagery.
Images show Egypt constructing wall near Rafah border
Posted at 2:56 PM, Feb 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-28 16:57:28-05

As Israel's threats to start military operations in Gaza's southern city of Rafah grow, satellite imagery shows Egypt has cleared a large area near its border with Gaza, possibly in preparation for displaced Palestinians.

Video taken in mid-February by the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights shows the construction of a concrete wall just south of the Gaza border. The area where the video was filmed has since been completely cleared out by the Egyptian government, something that's visible in satellite imagery.

In all, the area is about 6 square miles. According to the human rights group, the area is meant to receive Palestinian refugees in case there is a mass exodus due to Israeli military operations.

That would be a massive shift in policy for Egypt, which has not budged on its stance of blocking any large influx of Palestinian refugees from Gaza due to fears Israel would not let the displaced Palestinians return.

"From the outset, we've communicated both to the Israelis and to our partners that it crosses a red line, that the issue of displacement, which is a violation of international humanitarian law whether it's internal or external, cannot be tolerated," Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said at the Munich Security Conference. 

Egypt's government has denied that the area is meant for refugees and instead claims the cleared area is simply a "logistics hub" meant to facilitate aid for Gaza.

However, analysts have stated that the area is much too large to only be for logistical operations.

Gaza's southern city of Rafah has seen a massive influx of displaced Palestinians since the start of the war, a sixfold increase in its population.

Many of the nearly 1.5 million Palestinians in the area have only tents for shelter, and there are so many people that recent satellite imagery from Planet Labs shows them pushed up against the border wall with Egypt.

Any extended Israeli military operation in the city could prove disastrous for civilians who have already fled fighting in Gaza City and Khan Yunis.

"I think we're going to see even more casualties, even more death, destruction than we've already seen," said Shaina Low with the Norwegian Refugee Council. "And of course, aid operations are now headquartered in Rafah. That's where the aid is coming in. And so I think we could see a further deterioration if not complete cessation of humanitarian operations, which at this point are the only lifeline trying to keep Palestinians surviving."

U.S. President Joe Biden said that a cease-fire could potentially be agreed on as early as next week. But even if there is a deal, Israel has said it still plans on eventually conducting operations in Rafah.

SEE MORE: Israel will pause Hamas war during Ramadan if hostage deal is reached


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