Egypt directs partners to deliver aid for Gaza to Sinai’s al-Arish airport: Ministry

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Egypt called on Thursday for humanitarian relief to be provided to Palestinian civilians inside the Gaza Strip and said it was directing international aid flights to al-Arish Airport near its border with the enclave.

The Rafah crossing between Sinai and Gaza remained open, the foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that Egypt had asked Israel to avoid targeting the Palestinian side of the crossing after strikes that prevented normal operations there.

Israel’s massive bombardment and imposition of a total siege on Gaza has caused alarm in Egypt, which shares a border with the south of the Palestinian enclave and controls the main exit point for the 2.3 million residents living there.

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Movement of registered travelers through Rafah, which is subject to tight controls, has been interrupted since Israeli bombardments hit the Palestinian side of the crossing earlier this week.

Egypt, a key mediator between Israel and the Palestinians during periods of unrest in Gaza, has said it is trying to facilitate the delivery of relief but that the situation inside the enclave has hampered plans.

Egypt has also signaled its rejection of Gaza residents being forced south across the border.

“From the beginning, we emphasized the continued opening of the Rafah crossing to provide humanitarian aid, and the crossing will remain open until we meet the urgent humanitarian needs of Gaza Strip,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in a press conference with his Lithuanian counterpart.

In a phone call with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stressed the need to guarantee humanitarian services and relief to the Palestinians in Gaza, Sisi's office said in a statement.

Al-Sisi also informed Sunak of Egypt’s “continuing efforts to push for the pursuit of calm and utmost restraint to prevent sliding into bloodshed, the price of which will be paid by more innocent people, and whose consequences will extend to the entire region,” the statement said.

Israel, which is retaliating for a deadly incursion by Hamas gunmen into Israel, said on Thursday there would be no humanitarian break to its siege of Gaza until all its hostages were freed.

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