Delegations from the United States and Israel end a meeting in Cairo aimed at discussing the reopening of the Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt, according to Egypt’s al Qahera News TV.

The network, citing a senior source, says that during the talks Egypt stuck to its position that Israel must withdraw from the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing for it to operate again.

The IDF took control of the Gazan side of the crossing from Hamas in early May, and since then Egypt has refused to allow goods to cross through the terminal. Last week the IDF said it had discovered many cross-border tunnels and rocket launchers positioned by Hamas just along the border with Egypt.


Why does Egypt want Israel to withdraw from the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing? What does it have to gain from Israel complying to its demand? I thought about it and I thought initially it was because it didn't want the Gazan to flood Egypt, but regardless of what Israel does, Egypt can manage to block off the crossing and not anyone in, so I am wondering if there's some other reason for Egypt to demand that from Israel.


3 Answers 3


It helps avoid the currently unpopular view of cooperating with Israel.

Consider that Jordan requested and received Israel's cooperation to provide aid to Gaza, but the Queen of Jordan then denounced Israel.



They probably want to avoid another incident where Egyptians have opened fire on Israeli soldiers

Egyptian soldiers stationed on the border with the Palestinian Rafah City had reportedly fired shots at Israeli army troops, with unconfirmed news that at least seven Israelis were injured, and one Egyptian soldier killed, amid growing tension between Egypt and Israel.

Despite having diplomatic recognition, Israel hasn't been terribly popular with Egyptians. Unsurprisingly, Israel's invasion of Rafah has not helped that

The growing diplomatic spat between the two countries further dipped after Israel had pushed ahead with its ground invasion of Rafah despite pleas from Egypt, the US and others to not invade the border city where around 1.4 million Palestinians from elsewhere in Gaza have been sheltering.

There have been tensions prior to the 2023 war. In 2022, an IDF commander was removed for firing on Egyptian forces by mistake.

The IDF on Friday announced the removal of the deputy head of the battalion involved in a friendly fire incident during which two Border Police officers were lightly wounded while thwarting a drug smuggling attempt along the Egyptian border last week.

  • 3
    But Egypt already shares over 200km of border with Israel. Why is an additional 14km going to be so difficult to handle?
    – Jacob3
    Commented Jun 2 at 20:48
  • 14
    @Jacob3 Because a large contingent of the Israeli army would be massed on the Rafah side, increasing the likelihood of an exchange of fire. A mass-casualty event on either side would not go well.
    – Machavity
    Commented Jun 2 at 20:53

It turns out that in some of the minutiae of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, Israeli tanks are not allowed within 3 km of the border, the so-called "zone D", although Israel is allowed to deploy some 4,000 troops and 180 armored personnel carriers in that area anyway.

So, Israeli tanks showing up well within that area, including at the Rafah crossing is objectionable under the letter of the treaty. Ostensibly, an Egyptian official invoked the treaty as a reason for their objection to the IDF taking over the area, albeit a few months ago.

OTOH the same treaty puts much more restrictions on Egypt's presence in the Zone C across the border. Technically speaking they're not allowed anything but civilian police with light weapons (and unarmed helicopters). But to fight the Sinai insurgency, Israel has agreed to bend the letter of the treaty substantially by generously interpreting/expanding the liaison provision of the treaty into an "allowable activities mechanism", following which they allowed Egyptian tanks to deploy where the treaty letter says they shouldn't be. So, whether it's reasonable for Egypt to show this much intransigence here, when Israel did otherwise, is IMHO debatable, but of course there are other domestic politics considerations in Egypt, as touch upon by some other answers.

One might argue that Israel had more of an incentive then than Egypt does now, to bend the letter of the treaty because the Islamists that Egypt was fighting also attacked Israel [albeit less than Egypt], but Hamas insofar hasn't attacked Egypt, AFAIK.

Although Wikipedia doesn't seem to mention this detail, the Times of Israel writes that there was in fact some controversy regarding [Egyptian] tanks in 2012. Their deployment having been less than mutually agreed upon, unlike other Egyptian forces.

  • While it is unlikely that Israel would attack Egypt, given the history of the conflict, it is quite easy to imagine Israel carrying cross-border raids to attack Islamists or Hamas on the Egyptian side, or the Bedouins involved in the smuggling of weapons to Gaza.
    – Morisco
    Commented Jun 5 at 10:48

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