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Egypt calls on EU to accept one million refugees from Gaza

A senior Egyptian official told his European counterpart that Europe should take one million refugees from the Gaza Strip.

The official said:

You want us to take one million people? Well, I am going to send them to Europe. You care about human rights so much – well, you take them.

The statement came after European Council President Charles Michel had claimed that the conflict between Israel and Hamas would have “major security consequences” for Europe, and Egypt had refused to accept refugees from Palestine in northern Sinai.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said that Egypt opposed the forcible transfer of millions of Palestinians to Sinai. He added that any such move would make the peninsula a base for attacks on Israel.

At a joint press conference in Cairo with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Sisi said the Gaza Strip was effectively under Israeli control and Palestinians could be transferred to Israel’s Negev desert “till the militants are dealt with”. The border between Egypt‘s Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip is the only non-Israeli-controlled land crossing from Palestinian territory.

The total siege of the Gaza Strip and continued Israeli bombardment has raised fears that the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million residents may move south to Sinai. Sisi said:

What is happening now in Gaza is an attempt to force civilian residents to take refugee and migrate to Egypt, which should not be accepted. Egypt rejects any attempt to resolve the Palestinian issue by military means or through the forced displacement of Palestinians from their land, which would come at the expense of the countries of the region.

Sisi said Egypt’s residents “would take to the streets and protest by the millions … if called upon” against any transfer of Gazans to Sinai.

A blast Tuesday night at a hospital in the centre of the Gaza Strip that killed at least 500 Palestinians sparked a new wave of mass protests in the Middle East just as US President Joe Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday in an attempt to resolve the military conflict and send humanitarian aid. The cause of the blast has not yet been precisely determined. Israel denies responsibility for the blast and says it was caused by a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, which denies culpability.

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