Satellite photos show Egypt building wall near Gaza: Report

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Egypt is building a wall and is leveling land near its border with the Gaza Strip ahead of a planned Israeli offensive targeting the border city of Rafah, satellite images analyzed on Feb. 16 by The Associated Press show.

Egypt, which has not publicly acknowledged the construction, repeatedly has warned Israel not to forcibly expel the over 1 million Palestinians now displaced in Rafah across the border into its territory while it battles the militant group Hamas for a fifth month.

However, the preparations on the Egyptian side of the border in the Sinai Peninsula suggest Cairo is preparing for just that scenario, something that could threatened its 1979 peace deal with Israel that’s been a linchpin for regional security.

The satellite images, taken on Feb. 15 by Maxar Technologies, show construction ongoing on the wall, which sits along the Sheikh Zuweid-Rafah Road some 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) west of the border with Gaza. The images show cranes, trucks and what appear to be precast concrete barriers being set up along the road.

Those satellite images correspond to features seen in a video released by the London-based Sinai Foundation for Human Rights on Feb. 12. The video shows a crane lifting concrete walls into place along the road.

Nearby as well, construction crews appear to be leveling and clearing ground for an unknown purpose. That can also be seen in imagery from Planet Labs PBC of the area. The Wall Street Journal, quoting anonymous Egyptian officials, described “an 8-square-mile [20-square-kilometer] walled enclosure” being built in the area that could accommodate over 100,000 people.

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