Egypt warns against Israeli call for Gaza residents to move south

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s foreign ministry warned on Friday against calls from the Israeli army for more than 1 million of the Gaza Strip’s residents to leave their homes and head south, saying it would have a serious impact on humanitarian conditions in the enclave.

Such a move would be a “grave violation” of international humanitarian law and expose the lives of Gaza residents to danger, putting hundreds of thousands of people in areas not fit to accommodate them, the ministry said in a statement.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on Friday that Gallant said Palestinian civilians “who want to save their lives” must heed Israel’s warning to evacuate southward in Gaza.

Egypt shares a border with Gaza and has been alarmed by the prospect that its residents could be displaced by Israel’s siege and bombardment of the territory, launched in retaliation for a devastating incursion by Hamas militants.

Speaking at a military graduation ceremony late on Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said it was “important that the (Palestinian) people remain steadfast and present on their land” as Egypt pushed to secure humanitarian relief.

Cairo has been trying to facilitate provision of relief for Gaza through Rafah, the main border crossing from the territory that is not controlled by Israel, but two security sources said on Friday that talks with the United States and other countries had failed so far to secure a way to deliver the aid.

Operations at the crossing were disrupted by Israeli strikes on the Palestinian side of the border earlier this week and civilians have not been passing through the crossing since Tuesday.

On Friday two flights from Turkey carrying food and medical aid arrived at Al Arish airport in northern Sinai, about 45 km (28 miles) from the Gaza border, according to a third security source. A flight from Jordan arrived on Thursday.

Cargoes of aid were to be stored at a sports stadium in Al Arish until a route for their delivery could be opened, one of the security sources said.

(Reporting by Yomna Ehab, Enas Alashray and Mohamed Ahmed Hassan; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Jon Boyle and Leslie Adler)