CAIRO - Egypt opens a summit on the Gaza crisis on Saturday to try to head off a wider regional war but assembled Middle Eastern and European leaders are expected to struggle to agree a common position on the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants.

Two diplomats said it was unlikely there would be a joint statement from the gathering because of sensitivities around any calls for a ceasefire, and whether to include mention of Hamas's Oct. 7 attack on Israel and Israel's right to defend itself.

The absence of a top official from Israel's main ally the United States and some other major Western leaders has cooled expectations for what the hastily-convened event can achieve.

The U.S., which has no ambassador currently assigned to Egypt, is represented by its embassy Charge d'Affaires.

The summit meets as Israel prepares a ground assault on Gaza following Hamas' attack that killed 1,400 people. More than 4,100 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's counteroffensive, amid a growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Arab countries have voiced anger at Israel's unprecedented bombardment and siege of Gaza, home to 2.3 million people.

Shortly before the opening, trucks loaded with humanitarian aid began entering the Rafah crossing into Gaza, footage from Egyptian state TV showed. Egypt has been trying for days to channel humanitarian relief to Gaza through the crossing, the one access point not controlled by Israel.

Egypt has said little about the aims of the gathering, beyond an Oct. 15 statement by the Egyptian presidency that the summit would cover recent developments involving the crisis in Gaza and the future of the Palestinian issue.

China said its envoy for Middle East issues Zhai Jun would attend, while Russia said it would be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will not attend, while there has been no official word on whether French President Emmanuel Macron will go.

A senior EU official said on Friday there had been discussions about a common summit declaration but there were still "differences" so it was not clear if there would be a text in the end.

European countries have struggled to settle on a united approach to the crisis, beyond condemning Hamas's attack, after days of confusion and mixed messaging.

Clashes on Israel's border with Lebanon and attempted attacks by Iranian-backed forces elsewhere have fuelled fears of a spillover, particularly if a ground offensive proves bloody, while growing anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic harassment around the world has raised security concerns in many countries.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Wednesday Egyptians in their millions would oppose any forced displacement of Palestinians into Sinai, adding that any such move would turn the Egyptian peninsula into a base for attacks against Israel.

Egypt's position reflects Arab fears that Palestinians could again flee or be forced from their homes en masse, as they were during the war surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.

(Editing by William Maclean and Tomasz Janowski)