Among the many risks inherent in the ongoing war in Gaza, perhaps the most dangerous has been the potential for broader escalation involving other regional fronts, pitting Israel and U.S. forces against Iranian-backed proxies in south Lebanon, Yemen, and Syria as well as Iraq. Yet, no less serious are the potential spillover effects of the conflict on Egypt. In particular, the prospect of the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees into the Sinai constitutes perhaps one of the most destabilizing potential outcomes of the conflict. Such a scenario would pose not only a serious challenge to Egypt’s security but would also constitute a potential game-changer in the configuration of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Biden administration seems to understand the dangers entailed in the forceful transfer of Palestinians from Gaza, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling it a non-starter. However, the mounting humanitarian crisis in Gaza, coupled with the strident voices within Israel advocating for the expulsion of Palestinians from the territory, means that the administration should be prepared to continue forcefully pushing back.
A Not-So-Hidden Agenda
Since the onset of the war, the signals coming out of Israel gave clear indication that the forced displacement of Palestinians in Gaza across the border into Egypt was indeed an explicit objective. Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, head of the far-right National Religious Party, said that he welcomed the idea of “voluntary emigration of Gaza Arabs to countries around the world,” while advocating for the reestablishment of Jewish settlements in the territory.
This essays was originally published in War on the Rocks. You can read the full version by clicking this link.
Subscribe to Our Newsletter