According to the Associated Press reported on February 11, two Egyptian officials and a Western diplomat said on the 11th that Egypt warned that if Israeli troops were sent to the densely populated Gaza border town of Rafah, Egypt would suspend the peace treaty with Israel, and said that fighting there could lead to the closure of the main aid supply line to Gaza.
The threats made by Egypt were confirmed by three officials, who were interviewed on condition of anonymity. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries have also warned of serious consequences if Israel enters Rafah.
In 1978, U.S. President Jimmy Carter invited Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to meet at Camp David, a U.S. presidential retreat. After 12 days of negotiations, Egypt and Israel reached an agreement in principle on a peaceful settlement of the Middle East issue — the Camp David Accords. It included Palestinian autonomy plans in the West Bank and Gaza and led to the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty on 26 March 1979.
Under the peace treaty, Israel agreed to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula, and Egypt would demilitarize it. Israeli ships were allowed to pass through the Suez Canal, a major trade route. The two countries established formal diplomatic relations, which was the first peace agreement between Israel and an Arab country.
The treaty greatly limited the number of troops on both sides of the border, which allowed Israel to concentrate its forces against other threats. In addition to the war in Gaza, Israel has engaged in almost daily skirmishes with Allah in Lebanon, while also deploying a large number of security forces in the West Bank.
If Egypt declares the agreement null and void, it could mean that Israel's southern border may not be able to serve as an oasis of calm. The build-up of troops along the border with Egypt will undoubtedly pose a challenge to the already stretched Israeli army.
But it will also have serious consequences for Egypt. Since the signing of the peace agreement, Egypt has received billions of dollars in military aid from the United States. If the agreement fails, this funding will be jeopardized. A massive military build-up would also add to Egypt's already struggling economy.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Rafah was Hamas's only remaining stronghold after more than four months of war, and that sending ground troops was crucial to defeating the group.
Egypt, however, opposes any move that might cause Palestinians to flee across its borders into its territory. A major entry point for humanitarian aid in southern Gaza, Rafah, where Israeli attacks could hinder the delivery of critical supplies. With the influx of Palestinians seeking refuge, Rafah's population has swelled from 280,000 to about 1.4 million.
Xinhua News Agency quoted the Palestinian News Agency as reporting that the Israeli army launched an all-round sea, land and air attack on the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah and its surrounding areas in the early morning of the 12th, causing more than 100 deaths and hundreds of injuries, including women and children.
According to the report, the Israeli army launched at least 40 heavy strikes on the center of Rafah that day, targeting mainly homes and mosques.