Anti-Israel protest in Cairo
Anti-Israel protest in CairoREUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egyptian authorities this week arrested 10 activists who participated in a pro-Palestinian Arab protest in which they accused the government of contributing to the siege of Gaza and called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, The Associated Press reported on Friday, citing a human rights lawyer.

Egypt’s government has condemned Israel’s campaign in Gaza and has played a central role, along with the US and Qatar, in trying to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

On Wednesday, according to AP, nearly 200 people rallied outside the building of the Journalist Syndicate in Cairo, waving Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) flags and chanting slogans: “What a disgrace! Egypt is helping the siege!” and “No to the Israeli Embassy! No to normalization”.

They also raised banners reading “Open the Rafah crossing” and “Glory to the Palestinian resistance”, the report said.

Later on Wednesday, 10 activists who took part in the protest were arrested at their homes, and the next day prosecutors ordered their detention for 15 days while investigations were carried out, according to their lawyer Nabeh Elganadi.

They were charged with spreading false information and joining a terror group — usually a reference to the banned Muslim Brotherhood — charges that are frequently used against critics of the government.

The Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed and designated a terrorist organization in Egypt in December 2013, several months after the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, following mass protests against his rule.

Since Morsi’s ouster, Egyptian authorities have launched a crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters. As part of the crackdown, thousands of Brotherhood supporters have been jailed and the group was blacklisted as a terrorist organization.

Although Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, their ties have been formally cold, and Egypt's political elite remains hostile to any normalization of ties with Israel.

A 2015 poll found that Egyptians see Israel as the "most hostile" of their neighbors, despite the peace treaty.

In 2016, some Egyptians were outraged after an Israeli book was allowed into an international book fair in Cairo.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)