Egypt is benefiting from a $ 500 million project to rebuild the Gaza Strip to strengthen its influence in the Middle East, benefiting from the clout who made it through brokering a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged the cash injection to rebuild Gaza after falling into an eleven-day exchange of Hamas rocket fire and devastating Israeli air strikes Ashes and rubble was laid.
Sisi has been widely praised for playing a crucial role in negotiating an end to the deadly hostilities between Israel and the Islamist rulers in the Gaza Strip Hamas on May 21 , also by US President Joe Biden.
The aid package is in the form of constructions by Egyptian companies – a playbook that Sisi has been using with great success domestically since he came to power in 2014.
Sisi has the military’s engineering department for major infrastructure projects such as the construction of a new administrative capital and dozens of flyovers and highways nationwide.
“Sisi undoubtedly sees this reconstruction aid as an investment in exchange for political influence – both on the Egyptian border in the Gaza Strip as well as internationally, “said Sarah Smierciak, a Middle East economist AFP.
Egypt’s heavily secured Rafah border crossing is Gaza’s only passage into the outside world that is not controlled by Israel, which has been blocking the enclave since 2007.
On a rare occasion, during intense fighting, Cairo opened the transition so that wounded Palestinians could be treated in Egyptian hospitals.
“This one Promise will make Egypt’s voice heard in the Palestinian ranks, “said Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid, professor of political science at Cairo University.
” E. s (rebuilding) is definitely part of Egypt regaining its regional role, “he added.
The move is part of a thaw this year in Egypt’s relations with enemies like Qatar and the Turkey, which support Hamas – while Cairo regards this with suspicion.
Cairo al therefore regards Hamas as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which it banned in 2013 after the overthrow of former President Mohamed Morsi by the Sisi-led military has.
Egypt “changed its attitude towards Hamas,” said Sayyid after the group terminated its ties to the Brotherhood in 2017.
They also signed a preliminary national reconciliation between Hamas and Hamas its political rival Fatah, which runs the Palestinian Authority from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
“Reconstruction aid could make Egypt an acceptable partner for Hamas … and soon we could see Hamas helping Egypt secure the border, “he added.
Cairo has for years accused Hamas of sending weapons through cross-border tunnels to insurgents in its insurgent northern province -Sinai.
But Smierciak said Egypt could use the sizeable aid package to suppress Hamas, which it “sees” as a threat “to the country’s national security.
Last week, Egypt said it had sent an aid package envoys to Gaza with cranes, excavators and trucks to “prepare the ground for rebuilding” the enclave.
But so far no public information has been given about given the companies tasked with rebuilding the densely populated area.
“The President’s office has not disclosed which Egyptian companies will be tapped into for the reconstruction, but military-owned companies are becoming quite the party Security a ze ntral role, “said Smierciak.
However, a forum for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip is to take place in Cairo in the coming days, at which politicians and entrepreneurs from the region will come together.
Mohamed Samy , Head of the Egyptian Association of Building and Construction Companies, said: “The work will not” start until the security situation in Gaza is stable “.
” Gaza has a huge workforce, so I don’t think so they (Gazans) stay in their homes and let others from the outside do the work, ”he added.
Samy explained that the mammoth project for the construction industry This would be one “Expand national projects related to the production and export of building materials and job creation”.
Sisi’s Gaza aid package hits some Egyptians, who have borne the brunt of the government’s tough austerity measures since 2016 Skepticism.
“It is better not to give away so much help. Given our limited wealth and large … population, we deserve more, “wrote one Twitter user.
Another social media user saw the benefit.
” The Providing $ 500 million to rebuild Gaza is a wonderful step … The important thing is to keep the money under Egyptian control so that Egyptian businesses, workers and products can be used, “they wrote on Facebook.
Smierciak was also cautious in her assessment of the much-vaunted reconstruction.
“We have to understand why it makes economic sense. We have to see who will ‘win’ the multi-million dollar contracts – that is, who will actually pocket the money, “she said.