The decision to keep the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza closed is a political move and not a military decision, the Armed Forces spokesperson’s office told Mada Masr by telephone today. The official refused to give his name, saying the military doesn’t speak in a personal capacity.
He also denied a report that a state of emergency has been declared on the borders between Egypt and Gaza, saying the Sinai Peninsula is well secured by the army.
“There is no danger on the border between Egypt and Gaza,” he said.
The official added, “We are cut up about what is happening to people in Gaza. A decision will hopefully be made by the presidency as soon as possible to open the crossing.”
The closure of the Rafah crossing affects, among other things, the passage of civilians and humanitarian supplies, as well as journalists.
At least 18 civilians, including five children, are among 27 Palestinians that have been killed since Israel stepped up its assault on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, with 150 people wounded, according to Reuters News Agency, quoting hospital officials.
Militants in Gaza have been firing rockets that have reached the Israeli city of Tel Aviv with no casualties reported.
The build up to the most serious hostilities between Israel and Gaza since an eight-day war in 2012 began three weeks ago, with rocket attacks after the abduction and killing of three Jewish students in the West Bank.
Israel blamed the abduction on Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip. Hamas has neither confirmed nor denied this.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told his Palestinian counterpart yesterday that Egypt is trying to reach a ceasefire agreement as soon as possible, according to the Ramallah-based Maan News Agency.
“Egypt is concerned about the safety of the Palestinian people and wishes to stop this dangerous attack and reach a ceasefire as soon as possible”, the news agency quotes Sisi as saying in a phone call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.