GAZA CITY, Palestine
The head of the media office in Gaza on Monday denied any contact from Egypt on the opening of the Rafah border crossing.
“We have not received any communication or confirmation from the Egyptian side regarding the intention to open the Rafah border today. Everything being circulated, especially in Israeli media, is unsubstantiated,” Salama Marouf said.
There have also been reports in Western media on a five-hour cease-fire in the southern Gaza Strip to facilitate the evacuation of civilians to Egypt, but without any official confirmation.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, after a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday, said “Rafah will be reopened” to get the assistance in and to get it to people who need it.
Israeli forces have launched a sustained military push against the Gaza Strip, a response to a military offensive by the Palestinian group Hamas in Israeli territories.
The conflict began when Hamas on Oct. 7 initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel, a multi-pronged surprise attack including a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel via land, sea, and air.
Hamas said the offensive was in retaliation for the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers’ growing violence against Palestinians.
The Israeli military then launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets within the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s response has extended into cutting water and electricity supplies to Gaza, further worsening the living conditions in an area that has endured a crippling siege since 2007, as well as ordering over 1 million Gazans in the northern strip to evacuate to the south.
*Writing by Rania Abu Shamala