Egypt bolster military presence at Gaza border amid fears of Israeli war spillover

Egyptian soldiers are gathering at the Gaza border amid fears of a spillover in fighting. Credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa via CNN

Egypt is bolstering its security presence at its border with Gaza, sparking fears over a possible spillover of fighting in the region.

More troops and machinery have been deployed to the Egyptian-Gaza border as a "precautionary" measure, Egyptian security officials told CNN, as the Israeli military begins its ground assault around the southern city of Rafah.

Egyptian military helicopters were also seen flying on the Egyptian side this week, according to an eyewitness in Egypt and social media videos shot from the Gaza side of the border.

Over half of Gaza's 2.3 million population have fled to Rafah from their homes due to Israeli evacuation orders and airstrikes.

Egypt and Israel rarely criticize one another in public, but Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesperson on Monday lambasted comments by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who said Cairo bears considerable responsibility for the October 7 Hamas attacks.

It is “unfortunate and disgraceful” that Smotrich “continues to make irresponsible and inflammatory statements, which only reveal a hunger for killing and destruction,” the Egyptian spokesperson said on X, formerly Twitter.

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It comes after Netanyahu praised special forces who helped rescue two hostages being held in Rafah, dubbing it "one of the most successful" operations in Israeli history.

The troops stormed a heavily guarded building in Rafah to free the two hostages while under fire and covering airstrikes.

Meanwhile, ceasefire talks are continuing to facilitate a hostage release and to distribute aid into Gaza.

US President Joe Biden is telling advisers Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is obstructing efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, people familiar with the matter told CNN.

He is reportedly most upset that Netanyahu is not following through on recommendations to de-escalate his military tactics.

Biden welcomed Jordan’s King Abdullah II to the White House on Monday for talks on how to end the months-long war and plan for what comes afterward.

The meeting with Abdullah comes as Biden and his aides are working to broker another pause in Israel’s war against Hamas in order to send humanitarian aid and supplies into the region and get hostages out.

The White House faces growing criticism from Arab Americans over the administration’s continued support for Israel in the face of rising casualties in Gaza since Hamas launched its October 7 attack on Israel.

Declaring “every innocent life lost in Gaza is a tragedy,” Biden also said the "key elements" of a temporary ceasefire deal are on the table.”

He said the US would do “everything possible” to make an agreement happen: a pause to fighting for at least six weeks and the release of the remaining hostages held by Hamas.

A senior US administration official said Sunday that after weeks of shuttle diplomacy and phone conversations, a framework was essentially in place for a deal.

Biden welcomed Jordan's King Abdullah II to The White House on Monday. Credit: AP

The official said Israeli military pressure on Hamas in Khan Younis over the last several weeks has helped bring the militant group closer to accepting an agreement.

Abdullah said Biden’s leadership was “key to addressing this conflict,” as he raised the plight of the tens of thousands of civilians killed and wounded in the fighting.

“We need a lasting ceasefire now,” the king said. “This war must end.”

Jordan and other Arab states have been highly critical of Israel’s actions and have eschewed public support for long-term planning over what happens next, arguing that the fighting must end before such discussions can begin.

They have been demanding a ceasefire since mid-October as civilian casualties began to skyrocket.

Israel’s offensive has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians in the territory, displaced over 80% of the population and set off a massive humanitarian crisis. 

Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians, has said the majority of those killed are women and children.

Israel claims to have killed about 10,000 Hamas fighters but has not provided evidence.

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