Mon. Jun 10th, 2024

An Egyptian soldier has been killed in an incident involving Egyptian and Israeli troops in the border area near Rafah.

The Egyptian and Israeli militaries are investigating what happened.

Israeli media say there was an exchange of fire, but there are few other details and no reports of Israeli casualties.

Tensions between Egypt and Israel have heightened since Israeli forces took control of the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing point three weeks ago as part of their offensive against Hamas.

Egypt is a strong supporter of the Palestinians and has condemned Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and the killing of thousands of civilians by Israel in the war.

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace deal with Israel 45 years ago and, although it has held, relations between the two sides have often been frosty. Deadly incidents between Egyptian and Israeli troops are rare, however.

Hours before the shooting, Egypt’s foreign ministry condemned an Israeli strike on Rafah which killed at least 45 people, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry. It accused Israel of the “targeting of defenceless civilians”.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the attack had killed two senior Hamas officials and that it was reviewing reports that civilians were harmed as a result of the strike and fire it ignited.

Like Israel, Egypt has maintained a blockade on its border with Gaza since Hamas came to power in 2006. Hamas is an off-shoot of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood organisation, which is banned as a terrorist group in Egypt.

Egypt has, however, kept channels open with Hamas and has been acting as a mediator in on-off indirect talks between Israel and the group to try to reach a ceasefire deal and release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

By Joy

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