Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi warned Saturday against expanding the conflict in Gaza, calling the entire region a “ticking time bomb.”
Egypt also reported it shot down several drones Friday that it said were sent by Yemen’s pro-Iranian Houthi militia.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah, another Iranian proxy militia, also has been firing rockets and other shells at northern Israel since the conflict began, including a surface-to-air missile at an Israeli drone along the two nations’ border Saturday.
The sporadic missile and rocket exchanges have left many Lebanese worried that a war could erupt between Israel and Lebanon.
After several apparent drone and rocket attacks along Egypt’s northern border Friday, which left a number of people wounded, Sissi warned Saturday against expanding the nearly three-week-old Gaza conflict to other parts of the region, including Egypt.
Yemen’s Houthi militia group, which controls much of northern Yemen and a coastline along the Red Sea, is an ally of both Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. It has used Iranian-supplied drones to attack cities inside neighboring Saudi Arabia in the past. This is the first report of Houthi drones attacking Egypt.
As Israeli attacks intensify against the pro-Iranian Hamas militia that controls Gaza, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian warned Saturday that “groups which are Iran’s allies are prepared to act if the war in Gaza continues.” He said that [Iran’s allies] “have enough rockets, missiles and drones that they can access as the need arises.”
Amirabdollahian threatened Israel, saying that the “continued killing of women and children and civilians” in Gaza and the West Bank will open the door to — what he called — a variety of options and that anything is possible. He noted Iran’s allies “are trained and ready to move forward if need be.”
Amirabdollahian also called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza and noted that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was planning to travel to the region to “try and find a political solution.”
Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, told VOA that Egypt and other regional countries are increasingly concerned about their own national security, given both internal and external threats such as Friday’s attacks on the northern Sinai.
Abou Diab said the attacks on Egypt were a threat to the country’s national security, and Egypt, like other regional states, is worried the conflict could spill over onto their own soil and threaten their borders and internal stability.
Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip from 1948 to 1967, Abou Diab pointed out, and has had to deal with Islamic extremism from both Gaza and the northern Sinai for a long time. “Egypt,” he said, “is prepared to stop any transfer of Palestinians to the Sinai to protect its own security.”
Saudi-controlled al Arabiya TV reported Saturday that a third convoy of aid trucks was “prepared to enter Gaza to help the civilian population.” It was not clear what supplies the convoy was carrying. Sissi said Saturday that Egypt was “working to facilitate the movement of the convoy into Gaza.”