Activists protest against al-Sisi’s rule (Picture: Alisdare Hickson)

As Israel continues its massacre of Palestinians trapped in Rafah, Egypt’s rulers have kept the border firmly closed. Egypt has also parked 40 tanks and armoured personnel carriers at its border with Israel. This could be seen as sending a message of aggression to Israel. 

But the tanks are more likely there to keep the Rafah border closed and Palestinian refugees from fleeing into Egypt. Egypt’s repressive ruler president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi maintains that he will keep millions of refugees out and the Rafah crossing closed while posing as pro-Palestinian. The Egyptian state only opened the crossing for aid two weeks after the Israelis’ assault on Gaza began. 

Since then it has only opened the border sporadically—not letting nearly enough aid in. At a Cairo peace summit last October, Sisi explained, “Egypt has affirmed its vehement rejection of the forced displacement of the Palestinians and their transfer to Egyptian lands in Sinai. This will mark the last gasp in the liquidation of the Palestinian cause. It will shatter the dream of an independent Palestinian state.”

In reality, Sisi is fearful that opening the crossing may threaten his own regime. Satellite images have shown that Egypt has been trying to fortify its border with Israel for some time. Images shared by the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights showed Egypt installed a new wall last December. 

The Egyptian state has also continued to try and destroy tunnels used by the Palestinian resistance group Hamas. While doing everything to keep Palestinians out and the border closed, the Egyptian state has warned it could suspend the Camp David Accords if Israel invades Rafah. The Camp David Accords, signed in 1978 between Israel and Egypt, were a betrayal of the Palestinians by Arab rulers. 

Sisi’s plan is clear. He wants to satisfy the millions of Egyptians who are furious about Israeli’s assault on Gaza, distract from his oppressive regime and maintain ties with Israel and the West.

But this plan might not work forever. Anger about Palestine is compounding a sense of already existing fury inside Egyptian society and could trigger a wider revolt. 

The Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists wrote last week of a social emergency sweeping through the poor as prices soar. “High prices are hitting bread, rice, sugar, grains, cooking oil, and vegetables—the basic commodities that let people survive. Prices jump from week to week and even from day to day. Providing the cheapest meals on a daily basis at the levels of income and wages for the largest sector of Egyptian families has become practically impossible.”

The revolutionary socialists’ statement says that what’s missing is organised resistance against profiteering, and calls for mass mobilisation.

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