Egyptian convoy activists stage sit-in at border crossing

Hundreds of Egyptian activists staged an overnight sit in on the Rafah border crossing awaiting entry into Gaza, in an attempt to break the siege.

The convoy consists of around 350 Egyptian activists, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Kefaya, as well as a number of leftist groups. 

Besides expressing solidarity with the besieged people of Gaza, activists also carried food items for them. The Egyptian group arrived in a number of busses and micro-bussess from Cairo in the morning of 11 June, the last of which arrived to the Rafah border crossing by 5 pm.  This left little time for the group to negotiate with both the Egyptian and Hamas authorities to be granted entry, since the border closed at 7 pm; hence, the delay in the group’s entry. The Egyptian security told activists on board that the border authorities were not free to process their crossing. 

According to Zeinab Abul-Magd, a professor of history who is taking part in the convoy, they are awaiting to be granted entry into Gaza by 11 am on 12 June. Abul-Magd, alongside a group of women activists, spent the night in a mosque in Rafah. She said that they decided to spend the night in the mosque fearing that if they go to a hotel in the nearby city of el-Arish, the Egyptian security, who are heavily present in the area at the moment won’t let them pass through in the morning.

The organizers decided to stage the sit in, Abul-Magd added, in order to pressure the Egyptian security to let everyone into Gaza by the morning. The Egyptian border authorities have announced that only those holding valid passports are to be allowed into Gaza–an issue that angered the organizers, since many of the participants only hold their Egyptian national identification cards. The organizers saw this demand for a passport as an obstruction by the Egyptian authorities.

The convoy’s efforts to break the Gaza siege comes as a test to the recent presidential decree that announced the opening of the Egyptian borders with Gaza in the aftermath of the recent Israeli attacks on the Flotilla.  “If they do grant those holding valid passports entry in the morning, then this would be a success story and the delay would be a mere logistical issue,” added Abul-Magd.


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