Gaza’s sole border crossing with Egypt, the only exit point for Palestinians not under Israeli control, was hit with yet another Israeli airstrike.
Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani spoke with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi about escalations in Palestine, according to an Amiri Diwan statement published on Tuesday.
The two leaders also delved into a discussion about bolstering bilateral cooperation, exploring avenues to strengthen these ties, and addressed pressing regional and international developments that are mutually significant, with a particular focus on Palestine, the Amiri Diwan said.
“During the call, they reviewed bilateral cooperation relations between the two brotherly countries, aspects of strengthening them, and the most prominent regional and international developments of common interest, especially with regard to developments in the situation on the Palestinian scene,”the statement read.
An Egypt presidential statement said “The two leaders reviewed the ongoing intensive contacts with various concerned parties to urge de-escalation and achieve calm, in order to stop the bloodshed and to protect civilians who are subjected to great humanitarian suffering as a result of continuing military operations.”
“They confirmed the need to push strongly towards achieving just peace in the region based on the two-state solution in accordance with the relevant references of international legitimacy.”
The call between the two regional leaders came as Israel struck Gaza’s sole border crossing with Egypt, the only entry point not under Israeli control. The third attack in just 24 hours consisted of “four missiles” targeting the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing, as reported by the local Egyptian group Sinai for Human Rights on Tuesday.
The Rafah crossing was set to be used as mode of transportation for humanitarian needs for Palestinians and was the only means of escape for the indigenous people.
Witnesses revealed that the second attack struck the no-man’s land between the Egyptian and Palestinian gates, damaging the hall on the Palestinian side. The Israeli military neither confirmed nor denied any attack on the crossing, as per the AFP, however footage that circulated online showed the moment of impact.
Prior to the strike, an Israeli military spokesperson advised Palestinians fleeing the airstrikes in Gaza to head towards Egypt. However, the Israeli military then altered its recommendation.
The Rafah crossing is the only potential gateway into Sinai for Gaza’s 2.3 million residents, as the rest of the 40-kilometre-long strip of land is captured by Israel and engulfed by the sea. The movement of people and goods is tightly controlled by Israel and Egypt.
Egypt urged Israel to offer a secure passage for civilians trapped in the besieged enclave, rather than encouraging them to flee towards Sinai, as two Egyptian security sources disclosed to Reuters on Tuesday.
Sisi expressed concern, stating that the escalation in Gaza was “highly dangerous.”
Egypt, along with regional and international partners, is pushing for a negotiated solution to the violence and vowed not to let the issue be settled at the expense of others, possibly referring to the risk of Palestinians being pushed into Sinai, Al Jazeera said.
Egypt, the first Arab nation to normalise relations with Israel, has historically mediated alongside Qatar between Palestinian and Israeli factions during previous conflicts in Gaza.
On Tuesday, Hamas confirmed it has been in talks with Qatar, Egypt and Turkiye since the beginning of the Israeli aggression on Gaza as part of mediation efforts, an official from the Palestinian movement told Al Araby TV.
The remarks were made by a leader from Hamas’ political bureau Izzat Al-Risheq, who listed the three countries involved in the mediation attempts.
In the wake of the unprecedented incursion by Hamas into Israel on Saturday, Israel has unleashed the most ferocious attacks in the 75-year history of its conflict with the Palestinians.
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday ordered a “total blockade” of Gaza, effectively cutting off access to vital resources like water, food, fuel, and electricity. Under United Nations statutes, such a siege of Gaza, with the intent to starve its population, constitutes a war crime.
Both the UN and the European Union condemned the total siege on Gaza, citing its violation of international humanitarian law.
Gaza’s health ministry reported on Wednesday that at least 974 people have been killed, including 260 children, with over 5,000 others wounded since Saturday. Israeli medical officials have put the Israeli death toll at 1,200.
An estimated 187,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced, with many seeking refuge in schools, amidst growing concerns that a massive onslaught or even an Israeli ground invasion may leave them with nowhere to escape.