On Sunday, February 11, two Egyptian officials and a Western Diplomat announced Egypt’s decision to suspend the Camp David Accords with the Israel if the latter’s troops are sent to the heavily-populated town of Rafah in Gaza. The region has some crucial routes which are used to supply humanitarian aid and any conflict in that town thus, can disrupt the same.
Rafah is currently sheltering around 2.3 million displaced Palestinians, over half of the population of Gaza, are seeking refuge in camps and tents run by the UN. The town had initially been designated as “safe” by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) who had urged civilians to seek cover in the territory amidst the ongoing war.
As densely-populated town housing 80% of the population in Gaza, any form of assault in the region will make the situation even more dire. Meanwhile, Israeli PM Netanyahu has asserted that an attack on Rafah is necessary to completely eliminate the threat by Hamas.
An unnamed Hamas official on the other hand was quoted by Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV that any attempt at destabilizing Rafah will sabotage the ongoing proposals regarding ceasefire and release of Israeli hostages which have been mediated by the US, Egypt and Qatar.
Egypt Officials Confirm Threats
The three Egyptian officials have reaffirmed the the country’s decision to scrap the peace treaty with Israel in case of an attack on Rafah. However, they have chose to remain anonymous as they are not authorized to release such confidential details to the public. Several other nations including Qatar and Saudi Arabia have also issued warnings against serious ramifications if Israel invades Rafah.
What are the Camp David Accords?
The Camp David Accords were signed on September 17, 1978 between Israeli PM Menachem Begin and Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat, making the first ever peace treaty to be signed between Israel and one of its Arab neighbors. The agreements were brokered by US President Jimmy Carter and got its name from the location of the negotiations at the presidential retreat of Camp David in Maryland, USA.
Both Sadat and Begin won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978 for their “contributions to the agreements”.
Concerns over the fate of civilians in Gaza
Netanyahu has said in an interview with ABC News, that Israel is currently planning a relocation of the civilians in Palestine and instructed their evacuation from Rafah to conduct its military operations in the border town which is still housing 4 Hamas battalions. He further stated the availability of many other suitable locations where they can safely seek refuge. However, since the Israel-Hamas war commenced in October 7, most places in Gaza have been rendered uninhabitable including Northern Gaza which has been completely demolished, while central and southern Gaza continue to come under the hostile attacks of Israeli troops.
Egypt thus, fears the influx of a massive number of Palestinian refugees in case the last remaining haven in Gaza, Rafah, is destabilized. According to The Associated Press, the nation has “heavily fortified its border with Gaza, carving out a 5 kilometer (3 mile) buffer zone and erecting concrete walls above and below ground”.