Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Wednesday said millions in his country are ready to protest in the streets if Palestinians are forced into Egypt, warning that such a move could turn it into a launchpad for “terrorist attacks” against Israel, jeopardizing peace between the two countries.
The remarks came at a joint press conference in Cairo with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, during which El-Sisi said that his government views Israel’s siege on Gaza as a scheme to expel the Palestinians to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
“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,” El-Sisi said, according to a Reuters translation.
The Egyptian leader added that the Sinai could then become a base of operations for militants to launch “terrorist attacks” against Israel, which would in turn blame Egypt for such attacks.
The Egyptian people would “go out and protest in their millions … if called upon to do so” against the forced displacement of Gaza’s residents into the Sinai, El-Sisi said.
He instead proposed that the Palestinians be moved to the Negev, a desert in southern Israel, until “the militants are dealt with.”
Israel has ordered all residents of the city and surrounding areas to evacuate to the southern Gaza Strip since striking back against Hamas terrorists who launched a deadly surprise attack on Israel from Gaza on Oct. 7.
More than 1 million Palestinians have fled their homes — roughly half of Gaza’s population — and 60% are now in the approximately 8-mile-long area south of the evacuation zone, the United Nations said.
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said Wednesday that 3,478 Palestinians have been killed and more than 12,000 injured in the past 11 days.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, and at least 199 others, including children, were captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza, according to Israeli authorities.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.