The government is constructing camps to house Palestinian refugees, should Israel launch a ground attack on the Gaza Strip, activists have claimed. However the government has rejected the claims, stating that they are merely preparing for possible eventualities, while observers have expressed fears that such camps could result in a permanent Palestinian presence in Sinai.
Masrawy news website reported that national security expert Sameh Seif El-Yazal said a refugee camp was constructed on Sunday morning in El-Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai.
Sinai activist Mosaad Abu Fajr said confidential sources told him that leading figures in the government held several meetings in preparation for displacement of thousands of Palestinians.
However, he said no camps have been constructed yet. He said he believes that if Palestinians are displaced to Sinai they would never leave it. “Without a national government in Cairo, Eastern Areesh will be added to Gaza”.
Abu Fajr said he does not believe the residents of Sinai would take any action if Palestinians are displaced to Sinai. “However, I believe that Hamas would accept the Israeli proposal to start a cease-fire.”
Office director of the governor of North Sinai, General Mohamed Abdel Moneim, denied that camps have already been constructed, saying they had not received orders to do so. He said they were preparing for any possible scenario however, pending instructions from “above”. He added that such instructions would come from either the office of the president or the Ministry of Defence.
Khaled Meshaal, head of the political bureau of Hamas, also denied the rumours at a press conference in Cairo on Monday. He said Gazans had remained resilient throughout years of occupation and stressed that there was no substitute for their homeland of Palestine.
Khaled Saad Gelbana, executive director of the Office of Sinai Media Services, also asserted that no camps had been constructed. He added that he was in “strict opposition to such action.”
Former Member of Parliament Mohamed Abu Hamed said in a tweet that the attacks on Gaza should not be employed to construct refugee camps in Sinai, as Israel would exploit such action to displace Palestinians to Sinai forever.
During a show broadcast on Sunday on CBC TV, Eid El-Marzouky, secretary general of the Sinai Foundation for Heritage and Development, said he saw military vehicles transferring equipment to Rafah, in North Sinai. He added that he believed there is a plan to initiate an “alternative homeland” for Gazans in Sinai.
Additional reporting by Basil El-Dabh