Egypt's President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi said any such move would turn the peninsula into a base for attacks against Israel. Image Credit: AP

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi said on Wednesday that Egyptians in their millions would reject the forced displacement of Palestinians into Sinai, adding that any such move would turn the peninsula into a base for attacks against Israel.

The Gaza Strip is effectively under Israeli control and Palestinians could instead be moved to Israel’s Negev desert “till the militants are dealt with”, Al Sissi told a joint news conference in Cairo with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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The border between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip is the site of the only land crossing from the Palestinian territory that is not controlled by Israel.

Israel’s unprecedented bombardment and siege of Gaza has raised fears that its 2.3 million residents could be forced southwards into Sinai.

“What is happening now in Gaza is an attempt to force civilian residents to take refugee and migrate to Egypt, which should not be accepted,” said Al Sissi.

“Egypt rejects any attempt to resolve the Palestinian issue by military means or through the forced displacement of Palestinians from their land, which would come at the expense of the countries of the region,” he said.

Al Sissi said the Egyptian people would “go out and protest in their millions... if called upon to do so” against any displacement of Gaza’s residents to Sinai.

Palestinian state

Al Sissi, who has rejected calls to allow large numbers of refugees from Gaza into Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, later told reporters the goal of "the Palestinian state" would be "eradicated".

"If it came to it, I could call on the Egyptian people to come out and express their rejection of this proposal, and you would see millions of Egyptians" in the street, he said.

A blast that hit a hospital in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening, killing hundreds of Palestinians, has unleashed new fury across the Middle East just as US President Joe Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday on a desperate mission to try and calm emotions.

Al Sissi and other Arab leaders have pulled out of a planned meeting with Biden in protest over the blast and what they see as Washington’s pro-Israel bias.

Israel denied responsibility for the blast and said it was caused by a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, which denied blame.