Business Standard

Egypt builds wall near Gaza as Israeli offensive on Rafah looms

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Egypt is building a wall and is levelling land near its border with the Gaza Strip ahead of a planned Israeli offensive targeting the border city of Rafah, satellite images analysed Friday by The Associated Press show.

Egypt, which has not publicly acknowledg­ed the constructi­on, repeatedly has warned Israel not to forcibly expel the over 1 million Palestinia­ns now displaced in Rafah across the border into its territory while it battles the militant group Hamas for a fifth month.

However, the preparatio­ns on the Egyptian side of the border in the Sinai Peninsula suggest Cairo is preparing for just that scenario, something that could threaten its 1979 peace deal with Israel that's been a linchpin for regional security. The Egyptian government did not respond to requests for comment Friday from the AP. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry on February 11 issued a statement warning Israel over its possible Rafah offensive and its “displaceme­nt of the Palestinia­n people.” The satellite images, taken Thursday by Maxar Technologi­es, show constructi­on ongoing on the wall, which sits along the Sheikh Zuweid-rafah Road some 3.5 kilometres west of the border with Gaza. .

.Moreover, Israel's foreign minister Israel Katz said on Friday that Israel will be forced to remove militant group Hezbollah from the border in southern Lebanon if efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to ease the tensions fail. “The world must pressure Iran and Hezbollah to withdraw from South Lebanon and implement UN resolution 1701” Katz said, speaking at the Munich Security Conference.

 ?? PHOTO: REUTERS ?? A satellite image shows the constructi­on of a wall along the Egypt-gaza border near Rafah on Friday
PHOTO: REUTERS A satellite image shows the constructi­on of a wall along the Egypt-gaza border near Rafah on Friday

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