Egypt is striving to secure a ceasefire in Gaza, al-Sisi says

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Egypt is hoping to reach a deal within a few days for a ceasefire in Gaza that would boost aid deliveries and allow displaced people in the enclave’s south to move back north, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Friday.

Al-Sisi also warned against the danger of an Israeli incursion into the city of Rafah, where an estimated 1.5 million people have sought shelter next to Gaza’s border with Egypt.

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Aid officials have warned of looming famine in the coastal enclave, home to 2.3 million people, with the war between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s ruling Palestinian group Hamas now in its sixth month.

“We wish within a few days at most to reach a ceasefire and not to have a negative development that could affect the situation,” al-Sisi said in comments recorded during a visit to a police academy.

“We are talking about reaching a ceasefire in Gaza, meaning a truce, providing the biggest quantity of aid,” he said. This
would include “curbing the impact of this famine on people, and also allowing for the people in the center and the south to move toward the north, with a very strong warning against incursion into Rafah.”

Al-Sisi added: “We warned of what is happening, that aid not entering would lead to famine.”

Egypt has joined international calls on Israel to open land crossings with Gaza to let in more aid.

Fearing a spillover of displaced Palestinians crowded near its border, Egypt has been trying, along with Qatar and the United States, to mediate between Israel and Hamas in pursuit of a truce and the release of Israeli hostages in return for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

A push to secure a ceasefire before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this week fell short. Hamas said on Thursday that it had presented a proposal for a truce deal to mediators. Israel said it was based on unrealistic demands.

Al-Sisi also voiced alarm at regional ripples from the Gaza war, including attacks on Red Sea commercial vessels that have led shippers to divert away from the Suez Canal, slashing Egypt’s vital canal revenues by about 50 percent early this year.

The attacks have been carried out by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis, who describe them as acts of solidarity with Palestinians against Israel in the Gaza war. There have also been months of border clashes between Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, and Israeli forces northeast of Gaza.

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“We also warned of the war expanding and, as you have seen, (affecting) the safety of maritime navigation in the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, and the significant impact of that on international trade,” said al-Sisi.

“We warned of all of that. And also that the conflict could expand to the north. These are all risks we warn against.”

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