Photo Credit: SSGT Jeffrey T. Brady, USAF
An Egyptian Army M60A1 Main Battle Tank, November 18, 1993.

According to two Egyptian security sources cited by Reuters, Egypt has dispatched some 40 M60A3 Patton main battle tanks and YPR-765 infantry fighting vehicles to northeastern Sinai on Friday and Saturday. The move was part of a concerted effort to enhance Egypt’s border security with Gaza, in light of the escalation of Israeli military activities near Rafah, a southern city in Gaza where many residents have sought refuge. This development has heightened Egyptian concerns about a large-scale displacement of Gaza Arabs into northern Sinai.

The peace treaty established in 1979 with Israel imposes restrictions on the number of Egyptian forces permitted in the Sinai Peninsula. However, Israel has previously granted permission for Egypt to exceed those limits to combat an Islamic insurgency there. Starting in late October, Egypt began deploying additional tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to the Rafah border crossing in anticipation of a potential refugee crisis.


Netanyahu’s office stated on Friday that Israel cannot achieve its stated objective of dismantling Hamas without advancing into Rafah. Israeli officials point to Hamas battalions and smuggling routes in the area and state that these must be eradicated if Hamas is to be destroyed.

The prime minister’s office emphasized that conducting a large-scale operation in Rafah would necessitate the evacuation of civilians from the conflict zones. But the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that following Israel’s notification to Egypt regarding its intentions for a ground operation in Rafah, Egyptian officials issued a stern warning stressing that should any Gazans be compelled to migrate into the Sinai Peninsula or if Israeli forces advance into Rafah, it would lead to the suspension of the longstanding peace treaty between the two nations.

According to Egyptian officials, a delegation from Egypt arrived in Tel Aviv on Friday to engage in discussions with Israeli counterparts concerning the situation in Rafah. Israeli officials are reportedly seeking cooperation from Egypt regarding the ground invasion, a request that Egyptian officials are currently hesitant to accept.

According to Israeli media, the IDF has developed a plan to attack Rafah which includes the evacuation of civilians from the city. The IDF has been waiting for the past two weeks for a green light from the political echelon to attack.

On Friday, Israeli warplanes struck Rafah, killing, among others, Ahmed Eliakubi, a Hamas operative responsible for the security arrangements for senior Hamas officials and chief of the Rafah District Police Department, and Iman Rantisi, a military operative and a senior investigator in Hamas’s security fo0rces. A police officer in Hamas’s Rafah District Police Department was also killed.

News12 reported Saturday night that the Egyptians would be willing to tolerate an Israeli attack on Rafah, which would raise the pressure on Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and his minions whose last vestige of control is in this southernmost city of the Strip, should the IDF permit the estimated 1.2 million Gazan civilians to move back up north. But the IDF has no intention of allowing such a flight, and it plans to corral the fleeing Gazans south of Gaza Spring and alongside the Mediterranean shore.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has already ordered the IDF to set up distribution facilities for food and medicine in those areas, to deliver them directly to the population and cut out the Hamas middleman.

According to the WSJ, an IDF offensive in Rafah would probably exacerbate the already strained US support for Israel’s military actions, which President Biden recently described as “over the top” (Mired in Terrifying Haze of Dementia, Biden Declares Israel’s Response in Gaza Is ‘Over the Top’).

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David writes news at