Egypt Prevented Large-Scale Israeli Operation Against Gaza


“Israeli-Egyptian relations still tense” Says Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian authority

 

Yasser Othman, Egypt ambassador to Palestinian authority

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Yasser Othman, the Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, said Wednesday that there is still tension in Egyptian-Israeli relations after the killing of five Egyptian soldiers last week.

“We want a clear, strong apology and a pledge to not to repeat such acts in the future,” he said.

It was not enough that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres expressed regret for the incident, Egypt’s cabinet said.

The Eilat attacks had nothing to do with Egypt, Othman said, and investigations are ongoing on both sides.

Egypt had “forbidden” Israel from launching a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip, he added.

“The Egyptian side has felt after the Eilat operation that Israel intends to [get] revenge,” so Egypt has sent a strong message to Israel saying it won’t allow an operation to take place.

Massive Egyptian protests calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador over the border killing of 5 Egyptian policemen

Israel did not launch a large-scale operation because they fear the Egyptian people’s reaction, Othman added.

His remarks echoed reports in the Israeli media that Egyptian officials had conveyed messages to Israel that a large-scale military operation could lead Cairo to the point of suspending relations.

In talks held this week between a senior Egyptian official and a very high-placed official in Jerusalem, the latter told him: “We stopped the escalation in Gaza because of you,” according to the report in Maariv.

This was preceded by talks held between Defense Minister Ehud Barak with Gen. Hussein Tantawi and intelligence Chief Murad Muwafi, who conveyed messages in a similar vein, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian-brokered halt to recent violence appeared to be holding despite sporadic rocket fire from Gaza and an airstrike that killed a member of Islamic Jihad’s military wing late Tuesday.

The truce was announced Sunday evening following four days of violence sparked by a series of shooting ambushes near Eilat in southern Israel on Thursday in which eight Israelis died.

Israel launched a series of airstrikes in the aftermath of Thursday’s attack, killing 15 Palestinians and injuring more than 50. Among those killed was Popular Resistance Committees chief Kamal Al-Nayrab.

Also Wednesday, Israel’s army chief Benny Gantz ordered increased measures along the border with Egypt due to intelligence about new attacks being planned, according to a report in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. Armed groups are planning attacks similar to the ones last Thursday, the report said.

The new defensive measures include putting in place additional means of electronic and visual intelligence gathering as well bolstering navy capabilities in the south, according to the report.

Third Intifada Launched in Tahrir Square While US Peace Envoy Quits


“May be the Arab-Israeli conflict doesn’t need any more US special envoy, may be president Obama shouldn’t bother appointing a replacement, for, as far as the Palestinians are concerned, they had enough of this backstage Zionist-manipulated politics disguised as peace envoys”

Dr. Ashraf Ezzat 

Cairo's iconic Tahrir square packed with thousands rallying in solidarity with Palestine.

Cairo's iconic Tahrir square packed with thousands rallying in solidarity with Palestine.

It is hard to believe that those are the same people who were on the verge of being torn apart by the deadly sectarian violence just a few days ago.  It is hard to imagine those are the same people who are yet struggling out of a revolution that weighed down heavily on their economy and security.

How could they, in just few days, grow out of their grief and overcome the dreadful shadow of civil war. How could they easily wipe the tears, put out the fire that meant to engulf the whole country and instead put on a smile, hold hands and head for Tahrir square once again. How could the people of Egypt, while preoccupied and deeply engaged in sorting out the post-Mubarak mess, find the time, or better yet the drive to show solidarity to their Palestinian brethren?

We can only understand this through a historical perspective. Only a people who go back thousands of years and who have been exposed to all sorts of experiences and historical episodes could come up with this remarkable construct of resilience.

Calls for third intifada from Cairo and Tel Aviv 

Knesset member, Hanin Zoabi.

With the dawn break of Friday, May 13th, the prefixed date for Egyptian masses to support the Palestinian cause, thousands rallied in Tahrir square calling for national unity between Muslims and Christians and at the same time showing their everlasting solidarity for the Palestinians and their legitimate struggle to liberate their homeland from the Israeli occupation.

According to a facebook page created by Arab and Palestinian activists, these Friday rallies at the Cairo’s iconic square are meant to, not only revive the popular support for the Palestinian cause but to officially launch Egyptian mass rallies toward Gaza, in a move that would encourage Palestinians in return to take to the streets and start their third intifada.

This call for a third intifada comes at a critical time the wind of change is storming the whole Arab world. And since Israel has been deliberately inserted inside the heart of that world, it will be hard for the politicians in Tel Aviv not to feel the mighty daft.

As a matter of fact the call for a third intifada has been resonating inside Israel itself and specifically from the Israeli Knesset as Hanin Zoabi, a member of the Knesset representing the Balad party called for a third intifada against Israel.
Zoabi, the first Arab woman to be a Knesset member, recommended the Palestinian intifada would be fashioned after the Egyptian Tahrir square peaceful protests which she added should be the model for all the Arab youth.

George Mitchell

And in response to Zoabi’s call, other knesset members said she should be stripped of her parliamentary immunity and put on trial for calling for rebellion.

But while charges of inciting rebellion could be filed against Hanin zoabi for her support for a nonviolent third intifada aimed at ending the brutal siege on Gaza, defiant statements by Avigdor Leiberman, Israel’s foreign minister, declaring that Israel will not entertain any new building freezes and will not consider more peace negotiations with the new Palestinian coalition pass uncommented upon.

But again, the timing of this call for a third intifada comes on the same day George Mitchell, the Obama administration’s special Middle East peace envoy, plans to resign after more than two unsuccessful years of trying to press Israel and the Palestinians into negotiations.

We have to admit that political endeavors to see an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have utterly failed and may be that what Mitchell’s resignation is trying to say.

The only thing that the American-brokered so called peace talks did is buy more time for Israel to grab more Arabic land and create a hard to change or negotiate reality on the ground.

But more wasted time is a luxury Palestinians cannot afford.

May be the Arab-Israeli conflict doesn’t need any more US special envoy, may be president Obama shouldn’t bother appointing a replacement, for, as far as the Palestinians are concerned, they had enough of this backstage Zionist-manipulated politics disguised as peace envoys.

And may be what the whole Middle East conflict needs right now is a new kind of politics, the politics of the street, the kind that is driven by the power of the people.
In fact, it could very well be the third intifada, that we need.

Israeli Embassy in Cairo Under Siege


“ Just when the Palestinians in Gaza thought they were facing this new Israeli attacks alone and with their backs against the wall, they found out they forgot, over the years, that they had brothers in Egypt who are willing not only to accompany them in their struggle against Israel but to protect their backs as well”

Dr. Ashraf Ezzat

Egyptians marching to the Israeli embassy in cairo, protesting over Israeli strikes of Gaza

On this very day, April 8th since 41 years the Israeli air force struck the village of Bahr el-Baqar – an Egyptian small village near Suez Canal. The raid resulted in the total destruction of an elementary school full of school children.  Five bombs and 2 air-to-ground missiles struck the single-floor school. Of the 130 school children who attended the school, 46 were killed, and over 50 wounded, many of them maimed for life. The school itself was completely demolished.

That tragic day marked the first encounter of the Egyptian people with the brutality and the indiscriminate aggression of the Israelis that targeted the innocent and unarmed civilians. This air raid demolished not only the school building but also the remains of any hopes for Israel to be seen as a friendly neighbor state.

From then on Israel was the absolute enemy in the eyes of every average Egyptian.

This terrorist attack on the innocent Egyptian school children has been deeply engraved in the memory of all Egyptians. And to make sure that no one forgot what Israel had done on that day, Egyptians made April 8th a mourning day for the killed school children of Bahr el-Bakar and to be commemorated every year for the last 41 years.
Only this year it was rather different.

Egypt-Israel relations in the last 40 years

Egypt has just emerged from its worldwide celebrated revolution which managed to topple the long lasting in power dictator, Hosni Mubarak.

So many things happened in Egypt since the Israeli raid on April 8th, 1970.

  • - Egypt retaliated against years of Israeli military aggression and political arrogance in the glorious October war 1973 against Israel.
  • - President Sadat signed – on an individual initiative- a peace treaty with Israel 1979 (based on Camp David accords) that never managed to naturalize relations between Egyptians and Israelis.
  • - Mubarak ruled  Egypt since 1980 and began a long era of not only observing the terms of the peace treaty but to acting as the closest friend of Israel and the White House in the Middle East.
  • - Mubarak, through his corrupt reign, helped Israel  tighten its shameful siege on Gaza and  even supplied Tel Aviv with the natural gas they needed for power and electricity production with prices well under the world rates. (enriching himself in the process)  But his most appreciated contribution to the Zionist regime in Israel was the complete Egyptian withdrawal from actively participating in the key issues of the Arab- Israeli conflict.

Gaza under fire again

Lately, the unrest began to resurface again at the border line between Gaza and Israel. On Friday April 8th Five Palestinians have been killed and around 45 wounded in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip following an offer of a ceasefire from Hamas after a surge in cross-border violence that was dramatically reduced by Israel and sold to the world as the usual “selective” Palestinian attack, by their most primitive handmade rockets, on a school bus – an area of specialty long mastered by the Israelis since Bahr el-Bakar school massacre.

Thus began another expected scenario of disproportionate Israeli attacks on the civilians and children in Gaza with the civilized world muted and turning a blind eye as usual.

The world has grown numb and painfully insensitive to the crimes of Israel against the Arab Palestinians in Gaza and the west bank.

And with judge Richard Goldstone bowing out and going back on his indictment of the Israeli crimes committed during the war on Gaza 2009; the world seems like a barren place for the Palestinians devoid of any free voices left to stand up against the Israeli insolence.

And just when the Palestinians in Gaza thought they were facing this new Israeli attacks alone and with their backs against the wall, they found out they forgot, over the years, that they had brothers in Egypt who are willing not only to accompany them in their struggle against Israel but to protect their backs as well.

Embassy under siege

On the very same day of April 8th and as Egyptians were protesting in Tahrir square demanding that Mubarak and his inner circle of aids to be put on trial and as the news of the Israeli attacks on Gaza made its way to the square at the heart of Cairo, thousands immediately took to the district where the Israeli embassy in Cairo is located.

Egyptians held back – by the military forces- from advancing into the building where the embassy lies practically surrounded the embassy in what seemed like a gigantic human shield. The angry protesters held flags of both Egypt and Palestine and raised big posters of al Aqsa mosque- temple mount in Jerusalem.

On a live coverage by Aljazeera of the march to the Israeli embassy- that somehow failed to make it to the news headlines- some of the protesters expressed their anger at the recent unjust Israeli attacks on Gaza and they made it clear they expected nothing less than the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador out of Egypt and taking the Israeli flag off the embassy building.

Some of the protesters went far as to demand the immediate end to the siege imposed on Gaza from the Egyptian side and a freeze of the Egyptian supply of natural gas to Israel.  But the most daring request came by many protesters who called for a public referendum to allow the Egyptian people to have their say about the peace treaty president Sadat had signed 30 years ago.

Amidst that overwhelming atmosphere of antagonism to Israel and its unacceptable and inhuman war of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians the Israeli embassy at the top floor of the building on the other side of the Nile opposite to Tahrir square found no other option than to dim out the lights and keep its staff hiding inside.

While the Egyptian crowd down in the streets were still swelling in great numbers around the embassy with the intensity of their enthusiasm rising high as they chanted for eternal solidarity with Palestinians the Israeli embassy’s lights were almost turned off with the Israeli flag kept as unapparent and way out of sight as possible.

On this April 8th night, and on the very same day that witnessed the massacre of Bahr el-Bakar the Israeli embassy with all the Israeli diplomatic mission in Cairo seemed under siege.

It must have been a terrible night for the Israeli diplomats in Cairo but at least they have experienced, even it was for few hours how it feels to be vulnerable, threatened and under relentless siege.

This public display of the Egyptian anger and dissatisfaction with the Israeli aggressive policy against the Palestinians may pass unreported by the main stream media but never unnoticed by the analysts of the Arab- Israeli conflict especially in the post-Mubarak era in Egypt, for what happened on that night of April 8th, 2011 might well depict the scene of the coming Egyptian-Israeli state of affairs.

On this day of commemoration, May the souls of innocent Egyptian and Palestinian children, massacred by the Israeli criminal forces, rest in peace.

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TEARS OF GAZA


TEARS OF GAZA.

“The history of Gaza is the history of empires come and empires go but the people of Gaza always remain in the land, They do not go”