Egypt rejects Israeli plans for Rafah crossing, sources say

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt has rejected an Israeli proposal for the two countries to coordinate to re-open the Rafah crossing between Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, and to manage its future operation, two Egyptian security sources said.

Officials from Israeli security service Shin Bet presented the plan on a visit to Cairo on Wednesday, amid rising tension between the two countries following Israel's military advance last week into Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by war have been sheltering.

The Rafah crossing has been a main conduit for humanitarian aid entering Gaza, and an exit point for medical evacuees from the territory, where a humanitarian crisis has deepened and some people are at risk of famine. Israel took operational control of the crossing and has said it will not compromise on preventing Hamas having any future role there.

The Israeli proposal included a mechanism for how to manage the crossing after an Israeli withdrawal, the security sources said. Egypt insists the crossing should be managed only by Palestinian authorities, they added.

An Israeli official who requested anonymity said the delegation travelled to Egypt "mainly to discuss matters around Rafah, given recent developments", but declined to elaborate.

Egypt's foreign press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Egypt and Israel have a long-standing peace treaty and security cooperation, but the relationship has come under strain during the Gaza war, especially since the Israeli advance around Rafah.

The two countries traded blame this week for the border crossing closure and resulting blockage of humanitarian relief.

Egypt says Rafah's closure is due solely to the Israeli military operation. It has warned repeatedly that Israel's offensive aims to empty out Gaza by pushing Palestinians into Egypt.

Israeli government spokesperson David Mencer said on Wednesday that Egypt had rejected an Israeli request to open Rafah to Gazan civilians who wish to flee.

The Israeli delegation also discussed stalled negotiations for a ceasefire and hostage release in Gaza during their Cairo visit, but did not convey any new messages, the Egyptian sources said. Egypt has been a mediator in the talks, along with Qatar and the United States.

Israel's Gaza offensive has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials, with at least 82 killed on Tuesday in the highest single-day toll for weeks.

Hamas-led gunmen killed some 1,200 people and abducted 253 in their Oct. 7 raid into Israel, according to Israeli tallies.

(Reporting by Ahmed Mohamed Hassan; additional reporting by Dan Williams; writing by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Aidan Lewis, William Maclean)