Egypt Opens Borders to Wounded Gaza Residents but Won't Mediate

Egypt Opens Borders to Wounded Gaza Residents but Won't Mediate

Egypt, the country once leading mediation between Israel and Hamas during the 2012 Gaza conflict, is taking a passive approach to the current Operation Protective Edge. Rather than inserting itself as a peacemaker, the country is opening its borders to Gaza civilians caught in the crossfire who need medical care.

According to The Guardian, Egypt announced that it will provide humanitarian aid to the people of Palestine and open its borders to people critically hurt by Operation Protective Edge. “We have extensive and full contact with all parties concerned, either directly or internationally,” foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told the newspaper. “Our main objective is to stop Israeli aggression. We are in full contact and pushing very hard to provide all humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians in Gaza,” he concluded.

The Egyptian government appears not to seek an active role in mediating the conflict, as it did in 2012, when President Mohamed Morsi intervened on behalf of the Palestinian people. It has now condemned Israel in an official statement, however: “Egypt rejects Israel’s irresponsible escalation in the occupied Palestinian lands amid its excess and unjustifiable use of military force and the subsequent bloodshed of innocent civilians… this constitutes a perpetuation of the repression and collective punishment policies.”

The condemnation comes after criticism from pro-Palestinian groups that the administration of newly-elected President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been significantly more hesitant to help Palestinians than the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi. Michael Hanna, an Egypt expert with The Century Foundation think-tank in New York, told the Agence France-Press that it appears that Egypt will not get as involved as it did two years ago: “There doesn’t appear to be significant appetite on the Egyptian side in terms of playing a major mediating role at the moment.”

Sisi vowed to eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood and, as The Guardian explains, his administration has been clear in describing Hamas as a similar terrorist organization. “We don’t have a relationship with Hamas… we see them as a terrorist organisation that is allied to the Muslim Brotherhood,” said one official to the newspaper in April. Article 2 of Hamas’s charter explicitly states Hamas is “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Egypt has also blocked most tunnels leading to Egypt used by Hamas, in an attempt to keep them out of the country. Sisi himself has made no public mentions of the situation, even while on a visit to Jordan, a nation also criticized by allies of Palestine for being insufficiently outraged at the attacks on Gaza.