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Egypt to join ICJ genocide case, cancels diplomatic meetings with Israel

Israeli officials accuse Egypt of betrayal after years of military cooperation

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry holds a press conference, in Cairo, Egypt January 14, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Following the seizure of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt by Israeli forces, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry announced on Sunday that it would support the South African lawsuit against Israel in The Hague. 

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry cited several grievances for joining the lawsuit against Israel, including the "deliberate targeting of civilians, infrastructure destruction, forced displacement, and creating unbearable living conditions, leading to an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Gaza."

“These actions constitute a flagrant violation of international law, humanitarian law, and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 regarding the protection of civilians during wartime,” the Foreign Ministry of Egypt stated. 

So far, Egypt has refused to allow any Palestinian refugees to flee to Egyptian territory, and the country, which used to have military control over Gaza following Israel's War of Independence in 1948, has increased border security several times since the start of the war in Gaza last October.

Israeli news sources have reported that Israel is intensively working behind the scenes to boost the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. This follows Egypt's decision to block the transfer of aid through the Rafah crossing as a protest against Israel's capture of the Gaza side of the crossing.

While many leaders in Israel accused Egypt of violating previous agreements between the two countries – and said the Egyptians are playing a double game – Netanyahu’s government reportedly believes Cairo's appeal to the ICJ will not likely influence the court’s decision significantly.

A senior Israeli official told Ynet News that the Egyptian announcement of support for the lawsuit reflected a low point in relations between the two countries. 

“It's not the Egyptian announcement to The Hague that bothers us,” he said, “but the fact that it's part of a problematic whole, that has implications for relations between the countries.” 

Another senior Israeli official said: “This is something that has not existed in relations with Egypt in the past. It's a tough step.” 

The officials said that Egypt will continue to pressure Israel, adding, “It's very sad and very worrying.” 

On Monday morning, i24 News reported that Egypt had “abruptly cancelled planned meetings with their Israeli counterparts.”  

An Israeli diplomatic official told i24 that Egypt was betraying Israel after years of aid. 

“After everything we did for them in Sinai, Netanyahu completely breached the annex in the peace agreement and in return, they stab us in the back," the source said. 

In the aftermath of the Arab Spring protests across the Middle East in 2011, there was increased unrest and instability in the Sinai Peninsula region of Egypt. This allowed militant groups like ISIS to gain a foothold and establish operations in the area. Israel cooperated with Egypt on several occasions, including providing intelligence and even coordinated strikes against ISIS targets. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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