Report: Egypt Cancels Netanyahu Visit to Cairo After Israeli Minister’s Gaza Tunnels Gaffe
Egypt canceled a scheduled visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because of a gaffe by Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz claiming Egypt was flooding Gazan tunnels partly at Israel’s request, pan-Arab news outlet Elaph reported on Sunday.
According to Elaph, Egyptian officials denied Steinitz’s claims and relayed their anger and embarrassment with the remarks in a letter to Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, the Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs at the Defense Ministry.
The Prime Minister’s Office meanwhile denied Netanyahu was planning a visit to Cairo in the first place, according to Channel 2.
Speaking at an event in Beersheba on February 6, Steinitz said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was ordering the destruction of Hamas’ tunnels between the Sinai peninsula and Gaza Strip “to a certain extent” because Israel was requesting it.
Egypt, like Israel, views Hamas as a national security threat. Already by 2014, the Egyptian military said it had destroyed more than 1,600 such tunnels, used to smuggle in a wide range of goods, including food, luxury items, weapons, construction materials and medicines.