Egypt Blocks 100 Female Activists On Way to Gaza
A group of 100 European and American activist women were stopped by Egypt on Thursday, as they attempted to cross Sinai to spend International Women's Day on Saturday in Gaza.
Egyptian authorities stopped the women at the Cairo airport. Among the group, Northern Irish Nobel Laureate and anti-Israel activist Mairead Maguire was already deported on Wednesday; the same happened to American activist Medea Benjamin on Tuesday.
Another wave of 45 women, most hailing from France, were prevented from entering the country on Thursday, reports AFP. Authorities proposed that 27 of the activists be deported, a proposal which was refused as the women apparently wished to stick together. Thirty of the women have been let into Egypt, where they are still negotiating passage to Gaza with authorities.
Apparently the women have begun a sit-in protest at the airport, and are demanding a refund on the cost of their tickets and visas from Egypt, reports Ahram Online.
Before they departed for Egypt, the Nile state attempted to dissuade the women from their plans to enter Gaza through the Egyptian Rafah crossing, according to Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdelatty.
The group was told "the timing was not appropriate... given the current extraordinary security conditions in northern Sinai and the difficulty of ensuring the security of the activist group until they reached the Rafah crossing," remarked Abdelatty.
The steps taken to isolate Gaza are seen as an extenuation of Egypt's ruling Tuesday to ban Hamas, the terror group governing Gaza. All Egyptian assets of the group were ordered seized.
Following the ruling, a decision was announced to strip 13,757 Palestinians of their Egyptian citizenship. The citizenship had been granted under President Mohammed Morsi's rule, given the close ties between Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. However, Morsi was ousted last July by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has hinted he will run for president.
Clashes between Muslim Brotherhood and the military have left Sinai in a state of instability, with numerous terror attacks rocking the region.
Egypt has been cracking down on Gaza; last November the area suffered intense power shortages after an Egyptian siege destroyed the illegal fuel smuggling through tunnels from Egypt.