Egypt closes Rafah crossing, civil society reacts to Israeli aggression
The Rafah border crossing with Gaza - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: Egypt closed the Rafah border crossing late Thursday after12 hours of its opening, allowing 412 people, 392 of whom are Egyptian, into the Egyptian territory, reported Youm7.

 An official source at the Rafah crossing told Youm7 that 20 Palestinians crossed, 10 of  whom were wounded and 10 were escorting them. They are being treated at various hospitals in Arish, Ismailia and Cairo, the source said.

 Egypt and the Rafah crossing

Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon’s Thursday statements on Gaza are “unbalanced” because he called for “opening the Rafah crossing without referring to Israel’s responsibility as an occupying power to operate all the crossings it shares with Gaza,” a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Youm7.

The source, who refused to publish his name, emphasized the “legal and moral” responsibility of the UN and the international community to stop the Israeli “irresponsible” aggression and “unjustified” excessive use of force against the “defenseless” Palestinian people.

Israel announced it “indefinitely” closed Gaza’s only commercial crossing Kerem Shalom Monday.

The Rafah crossing has been closed for most of the time since the military ouster of Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Cairo Court for Urgent Matters banned Hamas’s activities in Egypt last March.

Egypt maintains friendly relations with the Palestinian Authority, which mainly functions in the West Bank, but has strained relations with Hamas, a Gaza-based off-shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, for its alleged implication in instability in Egypt.

Official, political and popular reactions in Egypt

The Israeli pounding of Palestinian civilians and the rise of the death toll is “loathsome,” spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry Badr Abdel Atti told CBC Extra Thursday.

“The Egyptian position underscores the need that Israel ceases these attacks. Egypt is in close contact with the Palestinians and Israelis to stop the violence and spare Palestinian citizens the scourge of this aggression,” Atti said.

“The silence and inaction of the international community is unacceptable,” he added.

The Arab League is following efforts exerted by Egypt to broker a truce, Mohamed Sobeih, the Arab League’s assistant secretary-general of the affairs of Palestine and occupied Arab territories, said in Thursday press statements.

Sobehi did not rule out holding an extraordinary session gathering the Arab League’s minister of foreign affairs, saying that such a session would depend on the Security Council’s position on the Israeli offensive.

Minister of Health Adel Adawy told Youm7 that his ministry dispatched a high-level medical team to the Egyptian-Palestinian borders and equipped hospitals in North Sinai governorate to treat the victims of Israeli shelling.

The Arab Medical Union (AMU) is coordinating with the Egyptian authorities to dispatch two medical convoys to Gaza in 48 hours at a cost of 600,000 EGP, Mohamed Hassan, deputy head of the AMU relief committee, told Youm7 Thursday.

The Popular Campaign to Support the Palestinian People (PCSPP) was launched on Facebook Thursday as per a meeting held by a number of Egyptian activists Wednesday at the Bread and Freedom party to discuss ways to support the Palestinian people against the ongoing Israeli bombardment.

The list of “urgent needs” obtained from the people of Gaza includes mostly drugs and medical devices, which PCSPP’s Facebook page said Thursday it would collect in the form of goods, and not monetary donations.

PCSPP posted that one of its aims is “sending a message that the Egyptian people are aware of the Palestinian cause and their stance on it is invariable and does not change with political developments.”

The convoy should depart to Gaza in “days,” according to PCSPP.

Former Member of Parliament Mostafa al-Naggar demanded the Egyptian authorities to facilitate the access of convoys into the bombarded Gaza Strip to show solidarity, adding that Egyptians should precede Arab or western convoys.

A protest was held outside the Journalists Syndicate Thursday, but it was marred by altercations between participants who called for “depoliticized solidarity” and others who raised four fingers, a gesture that refers to the 40-day Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in that supported Morsi.

Several Egyptian parties deplored the Israeli offensive and called on the Egyptian government to announce a position that is “clearly pro-Gaza.” Misr al-Qawia party called for expelling the Israeli ambassador from Cairo.

The Israeli attack has thus far claimed the lives of at least 78 Palestinians, most of them civilians, Palestinian officials said Thursday. Graphic videos of the victims, including women and children, have surfaced on the internet since Israel launched its broadened military operation.

At least 150 houses have been demolished and 900 Palestinians have been displaced within the 360 km² Gaza strip since the attacks began on July 1, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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