The relations between Israel and Egypt have reached a critical point, as the ongoing war presents Egypt with three challenges, at least some of which it hasn’t faced before, and certainly not with this severity, according to Israeli media.
The first challenge is the fear that thousands and perhaps more Palestinians (out of a population of 2.2 million) will want to flee the Gaza Strip towards Sinai via the Rafah crossing.
Although the crossing is closed now, it will be difficult for Egypt to close the crossing if thousands begin to flee, as a result of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
According to Egyptian sources, there is a fear of raising ideas in the West about settling Palestinian refugees in Sinai.
At the same time, they rejected US requests to receive Palestinians from Gaza.
The second challenge, according to Israel Channel 12, relates to Egypt’s position and role in the current crisis.
Traditionally, Egypt faces the possibility that other countries – Qatar, Türkiye, and perhaps other Arab Gulf states – will interfere in Egypt’s historical role, thus dealing another blow to Egypt’s leadership image in the Arab world.
The third challenge relates to the Egyptian leadership’s need to calm public opinion that supports the Palestinians, even if not necessarily Hamas specifically.
That is, as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza worsens, voices will rise within Egypt, and in the Arab world in general calling for intervention, and perhaps even suspension or severing of relations with Israel.
The deterioration of relations between Egypt and Israel could develop in several directions:
First, irresponsible statements by Israel, such as Education Minister Yoav Kisch’s recommendation to the Palestinians to leave Gaza for Egypt.
Secondly, publishing unclear information, such as news that Egypt warned Israel of a Hamas operation, which Egyptian officials denied at the same time.
Third, preferring another Arab mediator over Egypt.
Finally, and most importantly, the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza will put pressure on the Egyptian government to take steps against Israel.
The deterioration of relations between Israel and Egypt may also harm Israel’s relations with other moderate Arab countries and create significant restrictions on the scope of Israel’s work in Gaza.