Saturday, July 13, 2013

Egyptian military authorities abusing Palestinians

Snowden is not the only one stranded at some airport: dozens of Palestinian families are stuck in Cairo airport unable to reach Palestine by any means, as are many other thousands since Egypt decided to close the Rafah crossing (again).

“We spent about four days in a three-meter-wide and ten-meter-long corridor in Cairo international airport. On Monday, when I left back to Tunisia, there were dozens of stranded people like myself, including two families with children, wanting to cross on their way back to Gaza,” Salama Marouf told The Electronic Intifada by phone.

Marouf is now back to Tunisia, after being deported by Egypt and where he had already spent one week attending a media conference.

He is one of the thousands of people affected by Egypt’s ban on Palestinians entering the country in order to return to Gaza, the only route home for the vast majority of the strip’s residents.

The Rafah crossing on the border between Egypt and Gaza, about a six-hour drive from Cairo’s airport, is the main outlet to the outside world for Gaza’s nearly 1.7 million residents, due to Israel’s ongoing land, sea and air blockade of the territory.

Egypt closed the Rafah crossing after the army’s 3 July ouster of elected president Muhammad Morsi, stranding thousands of Palestinians abroad.

“For me personally, I had the chance to get a visa back to Tunisia with the help of the organizers of the conference,” Marouf said. “Many other travelers with whom I was stranded had difficulties getting back to the countries they had arrived from. We recently learned that the Egyptian authorities’ decision is still valid and there is no way for hundreds of Palestinians to go back to Gaza.”

After closing Rafah, Egypt began to deport Gaza residents as they arrived at Cairo airport, and instructed international airlines to deny boarding to Palestinian Authority passport holders on flights bound for Cairo.

The Egyptian provisional authorities blame Hamas of being behind attacks in Sinai Peninsula, which are in fact the making of Bedouins, who have their own grudges with the central Egyptian administration, which has neglected them for decades:
There have been several attacks on Egyptian army posts by militants in the Sinai peninsula since the army takeover, and Egyptian military officials have repeatedly blamed Palestinians and Hamas, which runs the government in Gaza, of involvement. There as been no credible evidence offered to support these allegations.

Lina Atallah and Mohamad Salama Adam, of the independent Egyptian news site Mada Masr, reported on 9 July that military claims of instability in Sinai, used to justify the closure of Rafah, are exaggerated (“Less than a warzone”).

One Egyptian judge, who welcomed the army takeover, even blamed Hamas for the fuel shortage that had hit Egypt in the days before Morsi’s ouster. The judge claimed, in The New York Times on 10 July, that the Morsi government had withheld fuel supplies from Egyptians in order to ship them to Gaza. This claim, also totally unsubstantiated, echoes pervasive anti-Palestinian messaging and rumor-mongering in Egyptian media.

These arbitrary and pro-Zionist measures are particularly painful as they cause family separation in the Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for the majority of Palestinians.

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