Updated Oct 15, 2023 - World

Egypt's Sisi calls Israel's ongoing response to Hamas attack collective punishment

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AFP via Getty Images

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi told Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Sunday that Israel's response to the Hamas attack has gone from self-defense to collective punishment, the Egyptian presidency said in a statement.

Why it matters: They're the strongest comments by Egypt against Israel's response since the war began. It also comes amid a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where hundreds of thousands have been displaced and food and other supplies are quickly running out.

  • More than 1,300 Israelis and 2,300 Palestinians have been killed since the war began.
  • Sisi also told Blinken that the lack of any political horizon for the Palestinians led to "an explosion of anger." He said the current crisis is very dangerous and could have consequences on the entire region.
  • The Egyptian president also said there is an urgent need for de-escalation and the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The big picture: Blinken has been in the region for four days in a diplomatic effort to get humanitarian aid into Gaza, release civilians Hamas is holding hostage, and prevent the conflict from turning into a regional war.

  • He is expected to return to Israel on Monday and meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the Israeli ground operation in Gaza looms, according to three Israeli and U.S. officials.
  • During his stop in Israel on Thursday, Bliken told Netanyahu, "My message is this: As long as America exists, we will always be there by your side."

State of play: Since first arriving in Israel, Blinken has also visited Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

  • During his second visit to Saudi Arabia in less than three days, Blinken on Sunday met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) and discussed the war between Israel and Hamas.
  • MBS told Blinken there is a need to "find ways to stop the military operations that have claimed the lives of innocent people," the official Saudi news agency reported.
  • The Saudi crown prince also told Blinken Israel needs to "lift the siege on Gaza" and stressed the kingdom "rejects the targeting of civilians, the destruction of infrastructure and of vital services that affect everyday life."

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with details from Blinken's meeting with Sisi.

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