Israel fears rift with Egypt amid assault on Rafah

“The situation with Egypt right now is the worst it’s been since the war started,” an unnamed Israeli official told the Haaretz newspaper. “At the beginning of the war, the Egyptians showed understanding toward our position.”

Israeli officials are increasingly worried that the country’s critical defence and intelligence cooperation with Egypt could be in jeopardy due to Israel’s military assault on Rafah in the Gaza Strip, according to reports in Israeli media.

“The situation with Egypt right now is the worst it’s been since the war started,” an unnamed Israeli official told the Haaretz newspaper. “At the beginning of the war, the Egyptians showed understanding toward our position.”

However, the official said Egypt’s stance has hardened significantly following recent Israeli operations in the Rafah area along the Egypt-Gaza border. Israeli forces have seized control of the vital Rafah border crossing during the offensive.

“After Rafah, they (Egypt) have worked deliberately to obstruct our operations and to try to force an end to the war,” the official told Haaretz. “This is something that’s never happened, not even during previous operations of ours in Gaza.”

The fraying relations with Cairo could have serious security implications for Israel. Egypt has played a key role in coordinating ceasefires, mediating negotiations, and sharing intelligence throughout Israel’s conflict with Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Egypt also controls the Rafah crossing, one of the main lifelines for Palestinians living in the besieged Gaza Strip. Its closure during Israeli offensives has contributed to worsening humanitarian conditions.

Palestinian officials have condemned Israel’s capture of Rafah, calling it a “dangerous escalation” and urging Egypt to intervene to protect Palestinian civilians in the area.

While no official statement has come from Cairo, unnamed Egyptian officials indicated to Haaretz that they viewed the Rafah assault as an unacceptable violation of Egyptian sovereignty over the border area.

Egypt has been a key regional ally for Israel since the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1979. But the ties have been tested repeatedly during past Israeli military campaigns in Gaza and over other Palestinian territorial issues.

Israel will likely move quickly to try and repair the relationship amid rising diplomatic pressures over the high civilian death toll in Gaza. But Egyptian frustration appears to be growing over Israel’s failure to wind down its offensive despite mediation efforts.

Neither Egypt nor Israel can afford a complete rupture, but the Rafah crisis underscores the fragile nature of their strategic partnership when it comes to the Palestinian issue.