Afterwards she said the EU is opposed to Israel's "forced displacement" of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Von der Leyen also visited Sinai's Al-Arish airport on Saturday where international aid has been piling up for weeks, and after that the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.
Only dual nationals and a few severely ill or wounded Palestinians have been allowed to flee from Gaza through Rafah.
Unlike many other wars, would-be refugees have been prevented from fleeing to safety as all the crossing points out of Gaza are closed to them.
Egypt does not want a stream of refugees to flow out of Gaza through Rafah, and Israel controls all the other border crossings out of the Strip which are now all closed.
El-Sissi said in October that Israel wants to force a permanent expulsion of Palestinians into Egypt and Jordan and so nullify Palestinian demands for statehood. He said a mass exodus would risk bringing militants into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, from where they might launch attacks on Israel, endangering the two countries’ 40-year-old peace treaty.
A History Of Displacement
Displacement has been a major theme of Palestinian history. In the 1948 war around Israel’s creation, an estimated 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled from what is now Israel. Palestinians refer to the event as the Nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe.”
In the 1967 Mideast war, when Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 300,000 more Palestinians fled, mostly into Jordan.
The refugees and their descendants now number nearly six million, most living in camps and communities in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The diaspora has spread further, with many refugees building lives in Gulf Arab countries or the West.
After fighting stopped in the 1948 war, Israel refused to allow refugees to return to their homes. Since then, Israel has rejected Palestinian demands for a return of refugees as part of a peace deal, arguing that it would threaten the country’s Jewish majority.