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12 Feb, 2024 15:46

African state issues warning to Israel

Egypt could be forced to terminate a 1978 peace pact, in response to the Gaza war
African state issues warning to Israel

Egypt has threatened to suspend the Camp David treaty, a decades-old peace accord that it signed with Israel, if the Jewish state continues with its ground offensive in southern Gaza, the Associated Press reported on Monday.

The warning came after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched airstrikes on Saturday in the city of Rafah, near the Egyptian border, killing more than 100 people, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

Israel had previously designated the city, where an estimated 1.4 million Palestinians have sought refuge after being forced from their homes by bombings elsewhere in Gaza, as a safe zone for civilians. The city had a population of around 280,000 before the war began four months ago, and it is now considered by Israel as the last stronghold of Hamas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said carrying out ground assaults in Rafah is essential to defeating the Palestinian militant group, which raided Israeli villages on October 7, killing more than 1,200 people and taking hundreds of hostages.

However, Egypt – which according to the UN already hosts around 9 million migrants and refugees – has repeatedly said an exodus of besieged Palestinians into its territory will not be permitted.

The North African nation and Israel have fought four major wars, the most recent being the so-called Yom Kippur War in 1973. The two countries signed the Camp David Accords in September 1978, which resulted in a peace deal the following year. The agreement, mediated by then-US President Jimmy Carter, saw both countries establish full diplomatic relations, making it Israel’s first peace treaty with an Arab country.

On Sunday, two unnamed Egyptian officials and a Western diplomat, also speaking anonymously, told AP that the Egyptian government could terminate the pact in response to Israeli military action in Rafah.

“The Camp David Accords were led by three brave men who took a bold stance because they knew the lasting effects for peace and security, both then and for the future. We need the same kind of leadership today, and that is currently lacking,” Paige Alexander, chief executive of the Carter Center, told the news agency.

Alexander warned that any action that would draw Egypt into the war “would be catastrophic for the entire region.”

More than 28,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to local health authorities. The UN has reported that 85% of the population has been displaced, and 570,000 Gazans are starving.

Saudi Arabia also issued a warning to Israel and its allies on Saturday, saying they will face “very serious repercussions” if the IDF goes through with its planned ground offensive against Hamas in Rafah.

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