‘Egyptian policy leads to the brothers becoming the enemy’
|Tuesday, December 29,2009 09:14|
CAIRO // One year after Israel’s offensive in Gaza, the Egyptian government is still defending its policies surrounding the devastating three-week campaign as it pushes ahead with the construction of a steel wall between itself and its impoverished neighbour.
Cairo has failed to broker a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which it had promised just after the war, and has been unable to secure the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.
His comments came as activists prepared to commemorate the first anniversary of the attack on Gaza by holding protests and attempting to break the siege by crossing the border with Egypt with a convoy of aid.
He added that the Rafah border crossing will be open only between January 3 and 6. “The Egyptian state and people paid a very high price and paid with their blood for more than 50 years in support of the Palestinians. No one should compare himself with what Egypt did and is still doing for the Palestinians.”
The hardline approach to the convoy comes amid increasing domestic condemnation of Egypt’s approach to the Palestinians.
“The Egyptian government started the year with a siege of the Gaza Strip, starving its inhabitants and is ending it with building a sham steel wall to reinforce the siege even more,” said Fahmy Howeidi, a prominent Islamic intellectual and columnist. He was talking at a conference last week to honour Gamal abdel Salam and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, from the Arab Doctors Union, who were released last month after spending months in prison for their aid activities in Gaza.
Dr Abdel Salam, 52, the head of the Egyptian Doctors’ Syndicate Relief Committee, which organised a number of convoys to the Gaza strip, spent most of this year in prison before his release on November 13.
“This sudden coup [shift] in the [Egyptian] goals and policies and in enmities and alliances are surprising and incomprehensible.”
But in an interview on Saturday, with Egyptian state TV, Mr Aboul Gheit said: “Egypt is not going to halt building the wall with Gaza because Egypt is not ready to cease protecting its people.”