Egypt Sentences 24 Muslim Brotherhood Members To Death

A file photo of the Egyptian national flag.
A file photo of the Egyptian national flag.

 

An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced 24 Muslim Brotherhood members to death for the killing of police officers in two separate cases, a judicial source said.

The Damanhour Criminal Court, north of the capital Cairo, convicted the group of several crimes, including the alleged bombing of a bus transporting police officers in the coastal Beheira governorate in 2015.

The attack killed three policemen and wounded scores of others.

The other case, also comprised of Brotherhood members and tried by the same court, was over the killing of a policeman in 2014.

Eight of the 24 accused were tried in absentia.

Capital punishment for civilian convicts in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, is carried out by hanging.

The verdicts can be appealed, the source added.

Egypt outlawed the Islamist group in 2013 following the military ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi.

Since leading the military takeover and becoming president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood, with thousands of its supporters jailed.

The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, calls for Islam to be at the heart of public life.

It established itself as the main opposition movement in Egypt despite decades of repression, and has inspired spinoff movements and political parties across the Muslim world.

But it remains banned in several countries including Egypt for its alleged links to terrorism.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International slammed Egypt’s “significant spike” in recorded executions, which saw a more than threefold rise to 107 last year, from 32 in 2019.

Defying Egypt And Sudan, Ethiopia Hits Second-Year Target For Filling Nile Mega-Dam

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 26, 2019, a worker goes down a construction ladder at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia. (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP)

 

Ethiopia said Monday it had attained its second-year target for filling a mega-dam on the Blue Nile River that has stoked tensions with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.

“The first filling already was done last year. The second one is already done today. So today or tomorrow, second filling will be announced,” an official told AFP, adding there is now enough water stored to begin producing energy.

Water Minister Seleshi Bekele later confirmed the milestone, which officials had earlier predicted would come in August.

In a post on Twitter, he attributed the accelerated timeline to “extreme rainfall” in the Blue Nile basin.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been at the centre of a regional dispute ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011.

Egypt and Sudan view the dam as a threat because of their dependence on Nile waters, while Ethiopia deems it essential for its electrification and development.

Talks held under the auspices of the African Union (AU) have failed to yield a three-way agreement on the dam’s filling and operations, and Cairo and Khartoum have demanded Addis Ababa cease filling the massive reservoir until such a deal is reached.

But Ethiopian officials have argued that filling is a natural part of the dam’s construction process and cannot be stopped.

Energy generation

The UN Security Council met earlier this month to discuss the project, although Ethiopia later slammed the session as an “unhelpful” distraction from the AU-led process.

Egypt claims a historic right to the Nile dating from a 1929 treaty that gave it veto power over construction projects along the river.

A 1959 treaty boosted Egypt’s allocation to around 66 percent of the river’s flow, with 22 percent for Sudan.

Yet Ethiopia was not party to those treaties and does not see them as valid.

In 2010 Nile basin countries, excluding Egypt and Sudan, signed another deal, the Cooperative Framework Agreement, that allows projects on the river without Cairo’s agreement.

The Nile’s main tributaries, the Blue Nile and White Nile, converge in Khartoum before flowing north through Egypt to drain into the Mediterranean Sea.

The process of filling the GERD’s reservoir began last year, with Ethiopia announcing in July 2020 it had hit its target of 4.9 billion cubic metres.

The goal for this year’s rainy season — which had been announced before the first cycle was completed — was to add 13.5 billion cubic metres. The reservoir’s capacity is 74 billion.

With the second-year target hit, the dam can run the first two of its 13 turbines, Seleshi said Monday on Twitter.

“Intensive efforts are being made for the two turbines to generate energy,” Seleshi said, adding that “early generation” could be realised “in the next few months.”

‘National symbol’

The $4.2-billion dam is ultimately expected to produce more than 5,000 megawatts of electricity, making it Africa’s biggest hydroelectric dam and more than doubling Ethiopia’s electricity output.

Ethiopia had initially planned output of around 6,500 megawatts but later reduced its target.

The first two turbines should produce 750 megawatts of electricity, increasing national output by roughly 20 percent, said Addisu Lashitew of the Brookings Institution in Washington.

It is “a significant amount” for an economy that frequently faces power shortages and is sometimes hobbled by power rationing, he said.

The milestone would also have “political implications” for a country going through “a very difficult time” in no small part because of the eight-month-old war in its northern Tigray region, Addisu said.

“The dam is seen as a national symbol, a unifying symbol. It’s one of the very few things that bring together people from all walks of life in Ethiopia,” he said.

“Definitely the government will try to extract some political value from the second filling.”

AFP

Egypt Releases Megaship Impounded Over Suez Blockage

A photograph taken on April 7, 2021 shows the MSC Rifaya container ship arriving at the Rotterdam port, form the Suez Canal, following its blockage. (Photo by Robin UTRECHT / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT

 

Megaship the MV Ever Given, which blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March, weighed anchor Wednesday following a compensation deal between Egypt and the vessel’s Japanese owner after having been impounded for more than 100 days.

An AFP correspondent said the ship started to move north from the central canal city of Ismailia towards the Mediterranean, shortly after 11:30 am local time (0930 GMT).

The nearly 200,000-tonne container vessel became wedged across the canal during a sandstorm on March 23, blocking a vital artery from Asia to Europe that carries 10 percent of global maritime trade and pumps vital revenues into Egyptian state coffers.

After a round-the-clock salvage operation to dislodge it, Egypt seized the ship and demanded compensation from Japanese owners Shoei Kisen Kaisha for lost canal revenues, salvage costs and damage to the canal.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) announced Sunday that a final deal had been reached, without disclosing the amount of compensation to be paid.

In a statement, it said the ship would leave on Wednesday.

Cairo had initially demanded $916 million in compensation before slashing that to around $550 million, but the final amount has been the subject of tough negotiations.

The SCA announced last month that it had signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Japanese firm ahead of reaching a final deal.

SCA chairman Osama Rabie, in a televised interview on Sunday, hailed the deal.

“We maintained our rights and we kept good relations with our clients,” he said.

– Millions in revenues –

Cairo, which earns over $5 billion a year from the Suez, lost between $12 million and $15 million in revenues for each day the waterway was closed, according to the SCA.

The MV Ever Given’s grounding and the intensive salvage efforts needed to refloat it also resulted in significant damage to the canal.

In April, maritime data company Lloyd’s List said the blockage by the vessel, longer than four football fields, held up some $9.6 billion-worth of cargo each day it was stuck.

The Taiwanese-operated and Panama-flagged vessel was refloated on March 29, and tailbacks totalling 420 vessels at the northern and southern entrances to the canal were cleared in early April.

On Tuesday, the Ismailia Economic Court ruled the seized ship with its crew on board was being released following a request from the SCA.

According to tracking service MarineTraffic, the ship had been moored in the northern part of Great Bitter Lake.

Rabie said the MV Ever Given had suffered “no leakage” and was leaving after a signing ceremony.

He said Egypt would also receive a 75-tonne tugboat from Shoei Kisen Kaisha as part of the compensation package, and noted that the family of one rescue worker who died during the salvage operation would also be compensated.

“The Suez canal has always been a site of sacrifices since it was built,” he said.

– Canal expansion –

The Suez Canal earned Egypt just over $5.7 billion in the 2019/20 fiscal year, according to official figures — little changed from the $5.3 billion earned back in 2014.

Even with the grounding of the ship, Rabie said Sunday that canal revenues in the first half of the year had topped $3 billion.

But officials have been keen to avoid reputational damage from the incident, trumpeting Egyptian efforts in the salvage operation.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi swiftly pledged investment to avoid any repetition of the crisis, and in May approved a two-year project to widen and deepen the southern part of the waterway where the ship ran aground.

Sisi had overseen the $8 billion expansion of a northern section of the canal to much fanfare in 2014-15.

AFP

Ethiopia Begins Second Stage Of Filling Mega-Dam, Angering Egypt

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 26, 2019, a worker goes down a construction ladder at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia. (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP)

 

Ethiopia says it has started the next phase of filling a controversial mega-dam on the Nile River, Egyptian authorities said Monday, raising tensions ahead of an upcoming UN Security Council on the issue.

Egypt said the move was “a violation of international laws and norms that regulate projects built on the shared basins of international rivers,” and had expressed its “firm rejection of this unilateral measure”, its irrigation ministry said in a statement late Monday.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is set to be Africa’s largest hydroelectric project when completed, is the source of an almost decade-long diplomatic stand-off between Addis Ababa and downstream nations Egypt and Sudan.

Ethiopia says the project is essential to its development, but Cairo and Khartoum fear it could restrict their citizens’ water access.

Both countries have been pushing Addis Ababa to ink a binding deal over the filling and operation of the dam, and have been urging the UN Security Council to take the matter up in recent weeks.

Thursday’s meeting was requested by Tunisia on Egypt and Sudan’s behalf, a diplomatic source told AFP.

But France’s ambassador to the UN said last week that the council itself can do little apart from bringing the sides together.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in one note to the UN that negotiations are at an impasse, and accused Ethiopia of adopting “a policy of intransigence that undermined our collective endeavors to reach an agreement.”

Addis Ababa had previously announced it would proceed to the second stage of filling in July, with or without a deal.

– ‘Existential threat’ –
The Nile — which at some 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometres) is one of the longest rivers in the world — is an essential source of water and electricity for dozens of countries in East Africa.

Egypt, which depends on the Nile for about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water, sees the dam as an existential threat.

Sudan hopes the project will regulate annual flooding but fears its dams would be harmed without agreement on the Ethiopian operation.

The 145-metre (475-foot) mega-dam, on which construction began in 2011, has a capacity of 74 billion cubic metres.

Filling began last year, with Ethiopia announcing in July 2020 it had hit its target of 4.9 billion cubic metres — enough to test the dam’s first two turbines, an important milestone on the way towards actually producing energy.

The goal is to impound an additional 13.5 billion cubic metres this year.

Egypt and Sudan wanted a trilateral agreement on the dam’s operations to be reached before any filling began.

But Ethiopia says it is a natural part of the construction, and is thus impossible to postpone.

Last year Sudan said the process caused water shortages, including in the capital Khartoum, a claim Ethiopia disputed.

Sudan’s water minister Yasser Abbas warned in April that if Ethiopia went ahead with the second stage filling, Sudan “would file lawsuits against the Italian company constructing the dam and the Ethiopian government”.

He said the lawsuits would highlight that the “environmental and social impact, as well as the dangers of the dam”, have not been taken into adequate consideration.

Egypt Sentences TikTok Influencers Over ‘Human Trafficking’

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

An Egyptian court has sentenced two women TikTok influencers to six and 10 years in jail respectively for “human trafficking”, a lawyer representing one of them told AFP on Monday.

The ruling against Haneen Hossam and Mowada al-Adham was handed down late Sunday by the Cairo Criminal Court.

Adham was sentenced to six years, her lawyer Saber Sokkar said, while Hossam given a 10-year sentence, both accused of “human trafficking”.

Other charges include “corrupting family values, inciting debauchery and encouraging young women to practice sexual relations,” Sokkar said.

Adham was present in court for the ruling but Hossam, who is on the run, was sentenced in absentia, the lawyer said.

He said that Hossam was given a higher sentence because she had failed to appear in court at previous hearings.

The women can appeal, the lawyer said.

They were arrested last year and sentenced to two years each in jail for “attacking society’s values” in videos published on TikTok.

In one video Hossam told her 1.3 million subscribers that girls could work for her for money, for which she was also accused last year of “debauchery” and “human trafficking”.

But in January an appeals court acquitted the pair.

The targeting of female influencers has rekindled a heated debate in the deeply conservative Muslim country over what constitutes individual freedoms and social values.

The clampdown is however not unusual in Egypt, where several belly dancers and pop singers have been targeted in recent years over online content deemed too racy or suggestive.

Rights groups say more freedoms have been curtailed in Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who took office in 2014.

Egypt has in recent years enforced strict internet controls through laws allowing authorities to block websites seen as a threat to national security and to monitor personal social media accounts with over 5,000 followers.

AFP

Egypt Sends Convoy To Bombed-Out Gaza

A convoy of trucks loaded with construction equipment provided by Egypt arrives at the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Palestinian Gaza Strip enclave on June 4, 2021/ AFP

 

Egypt on Friday sent an aid convoy to neighbouring Gaza with diggers, trucks and cranes to “prepare the ground for reconstruction” of the bomb-battered Palestinian enclave, the government said.

“Following the directives of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, engineers and technical teams crossed the Rafah border point,” read a statement from the government.

Egypt’s heavily secured Rafah crossing is the Gaza Strip’s only passage to the outside world not controlled by Israel.

Sisi has pledged $500 million to help reconstruction efforts in densely populated Gaza, home to some two million people, and which was pummelled by Israeli airstrikes last month.

Egypt played a pivotal role in negotiating the May 21 ceasefire between Israel and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, which brought an end to 11 days of deadly fighting.

Photographs released by Egypt showed dozens of construction vehicles emblazoned with the Egyptian flag.

They will be used to “clear the rubble” of debris left after the strikes to “prepare the ground for reconstruction”, the statement added.

Israeli strikes on Gaza killed 254 Palestinians, health officials said.

Rockets and other fires from Gaza claimed 12 lives in Israel, medics said.

Six Teens Killed In Fire At Egypt Detention Centre

Six teenage girls were killed and 19 others injured in a fire at a juvenile detention center in the Egyptian capital, officials said Friday.

 

 

Six teenage girls were killed and 19 others injured in a fire at a juvenile detention centre in the Egyptian capital, officials said Friday.

The blaze broke out late Thursday at the building in Al-Marg district on Cairo’s northeastern outskirts, a security official told AFP.

The head of the facility, which houses around 200 girls aged between 14 and 17, was immediately detained, the official said, without elaborating.

The fire, reportedly confined to one wing of the detention facility, was brought under control by civil defence workers.

Prosecutors opened an investigation into the cause of the fire by questioning survivors, a judicial source said.

The remains of those who died were handed over to their families.

Deadly fires are a common hazard in Egypt, where many buildings are dilapidated and poorly maintained.

In March, at least 20 people died in a fire at a textile factory east of Cairo.

Seven patients were killed in a December 2020 blaze at a hospital north of the capital.

 

Egypt’s Zamalek Wins Inaugural Basketball Africa League

2021 BAL CHAMPIONS Photo Credit: Basketball Africa League/Twitter

 

Zamalek Basketball Club of Egypt have defeated US Monastir of Tunisia 76-63 to win the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) Championship, which took place at the Kigali Arena in Rwanda.

The final game was broadcast to fans in 215 countries and territories in 15 languages.

BAL President, Amadou Gallo Fall, presented Zamalek with the trophy designed to represent the baobab tree, which is native to Africa and known as the “tree of life” for providing food, water, shelter, and protection to people and animals alike.

Following the game, the BAL announced the first recipients of the league’s end-of-season awards, which honoured pioneering African NBA Legends Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria), Dikembe Mutombo (the Democratic Republic of the Congo), and Manute Bol (South Sudan).

READ ALSO: Real Madrid ‘No Longer Had Faith In Me’ – Zidane

The BAL created the Hakeem Olajuwon BAL Most Valuable Player Award, Dikembe Mutombo BAL Defensive Player of the Year Award, and Manute Bol BAL Sportsmanship Award in recognition of their legendary NBA careers and off-court contributions.

2021 BAL CHAMPIONS Photo Credit: Basketball Africa League/Twitter

 

Award winners were selected by a panel of sportswriters, broadcasters, and NBA team scouts in attendance, with nominees receiving three points for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote, and one point for a third-place vote.

The 12 BAL Head Coaches voted for the Manute Bol BAL Sportsmanship Award.  Coaches could not vote for players on their own team. Both the BAL group phase and Playoffs were considered as part of the voting process.

Walter Hodge (Zamalek) was named the Hakeem Olajuwon BAL Most Valuable Player after leading his team to an undefeated 6-0 record with per-game averages of 15.5 points, 5.7 assists, and 5.0 rebounds.

Anas Osama Mahmoud (Zamalek) was named the Dikembe Mutombo BAL Defensive Player of the Year after recording per game averages of 6.7 rebounds and 2.8 blocks.

Makrem Ben Romdhane (US Monastir) received the Manute Bol BAL Sportsmanship Award for exemplifying the ideals of sportsmanship and camaraderie.

Additional awards will be announced tomorrow on the BAL’s social media channels, including the BAL All-First Team, 2021 BAL Scoring Champion, and Ubuntu Award, which is awarded to an individual or organization that has made an impact on the local community during the first BAL season.

Olajuwon became the first player from Africa to be drafted into the NBA when he was selected first overall in the 1984 Draft by the Houston Rockets.  The two-time NBA champion and Hall of Fame inductee was also named league MVP in 1993-94 when he led the Rockets to the franchise’s first NBA title.

Mutombo won a record-tying four NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards and was selected to the NBA All-Defensive Team six times during his Hall of Fame career. Bol, who passed away in 2010, enjoyed a 10-year NBA career as a 7-7 center and is recognized as one of the most imposing shot-blockers of his generation.

Champions from the national leagues in Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia earned their participation in the inaugural BAL season.  The remaining six teams, which came from Algeria, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, and Rwanda, secured their participation through BAL qualifying tournaments conducted by FIBA Regional Office Africa across the continent in late 2019.

Israel, Egypt Hold Talks Toward Gaza ‘Permanent Ceasefire’

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (2nd-R) meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jerusalem on May 25, 2021, days after an Egypt-brokered truce halted fighting between the Jewish state and the Gaza Strip's rulers Hamas Alex Brandon / POOL / AFP
Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (2nd-R) meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jerusalem on May 25, 2021, days after an Egypt-brokered truce halted fighting between the Jewish state and the Gaza Strip’s rulers Hamas. Alex Brandon / POOL / AFP

 

Israeli and Egyptian officials held talks in both countries Sunday aimed at bolstering the Cairo-brokered ceasefire that ended the latest deadly flare-up of violence between the Jewish state and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel in Jerusalem to discuss “strengthening cooperation” between their countries, Netanyahu’s office said.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi tasked Kamel and his delegation, who were also to visit the occupied Palestinian Territories, with hammering out a permanent ceasefire deal, senior Egyptian security officials told AFP.

On the same day, Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi made the first official visit by an Israeli top diplomat to neighbouring Egypt in 13 years, for talks with his counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

Ashkenazi tweeted on his arrival that they would “discuss establishing a permanent ceasefire with Hamas, a mechanism for providing humanitarian aid and the reconstruction of Gaza with a pivotal role played by the international community”.

The Egyptian foreign ministry tweeted that the ministers’ talks were “part of Egypt’s relentless and continued efforts to revive the peace track and to build on the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip”.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was also expected in Cairo for talks, senior Egyptian security officials said, without providing further details.

Egypt played a pivotal role in negotiating the May 21 ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that brought an end to 11 days of deadly fighting.

Israeli strikes on Gaza killed 254 Palestinians, including 66 children, health officials said.

Rockets and other fire from Gaza claimed 12 lives in Israel, including one child and an Arab-Israeli teenager, medics said.

Prisoners

Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s demand “for the prompt return” of Israelis being held in the Gaza Strip, according to the statement.

Ashkenazi also said Israel was “fully committed” to repatriating Israeli prisoners held by Hamas.

Since Israel’s 2014 invasion of the Gaza Strip, the Islamist group has held the bodies of Israeli soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, although Hamas has never confirmed their deaths.

Hamas is also believed to be holding two Israeli citizens who entered Gaza alone and whose families say they have mental health issues.

Israel is meanwhile holding more than 5,000 Palestinians in its jails.

Sisi has pledged $500 million to help reconstruction efforts in the densely populated Gaza enclave, which was pummelled by Israeli air strikes.

Hamas has pledged not to touch “a single cent” of international aid to rebuild Gaza.

Israel, which has enforced a land and maritime blockade on the enclave since 2007, accuses the group of diverting international aid to military ends.

The statement from Netanyahu’s office said he and Kamel also discussed “mechanisms and processes to prevent the strengthening of Hamas and its use of the resources that will be directed to the civilian population in the future”.

Root causes

The latest violent flare-up was sparked by increased tensions in Jerusalem, including over Israeli security forces cracking down on Palestinians inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, which is also revered by Jews as the Temple Mount.

A bitter divide between Hamas and Fatah has long plagued Palestinian politics, but analysts say the latest escalation has served to unite the geographically fragmented Palestinian community in a way not seen in years.

Sisi also tasked Kamel with working to help iron out political divisions between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Egyptian officials said.

The UN Human Rights Council decided Thursday to create an open-ended international investigation into violations surrounding the latest Gaza violence.

It said it would also look at the “underlying root causes of recurrent tensions and instability, including systematic discrimination” in the occupied Palestinian Territories and inside Israel.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet voiced particular concern about the “high level of civilian fatalities and injuries” from the bombing of Gaza and warned the Israeli strikes on the enclave “may constitute war crimes”.

AFP

US Secretary Of State Blinken Visits Egypt On Mission To Shore Up Gaza Truce

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is greeted by US ambassador to Egypt Jonathan Cohen (L) as he arrives in Cairo on May 26, 2021. (Photo by Alex Brandon / POOL / AFP)

 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Cairo Wednesday as he presses efforts to shore up an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

The US top diplomat already met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to throw Washington’s support behind the Friday truce that ended 11 days of heavy Israeli bombing of Gaza and rocket fire from the enclave into Israel.

After talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas at his headquarters in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Blinken vowed to rebuild US relations with the Palestinians by reopening a consulate in Jerusalem, as well as giving millions in aid for the war-battered Gaza Strip.

The announcements signalled a break with US policy under former president Donald Trump, who had shuttered the diplomatic mission for Palestinians in 2019 and slashed aid to the Palestinian Authority.

In the long term, Blinken evoked the “possibility of resuming the effort to achieve a two-state solution, which we continue to believe is the only way to truly assure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, and of course to give the Palestinians the state they’re entitled to”.

READ ALSO: Myanmar Excluded From WHO Annual Meeting

After meeting earlier Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he reiterated support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks by Gaza’s Hamas rulers, adding that they must not benefit from the international reconstruction aid.

In Cairo, Blinken is to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi before flying on to Jordan for talks with King Abdullah II.

Unlike the United States and many European governments, which boycott Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement as a terror group, Egypt maintains regular contacts.

Egypt was also the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

– Rebuilding Gaza –

Cairo has sent delegations to both Tel Aviv and Gaza to watch over the implementation of the ceasefire and has also been coordinating international relief and reconstruction aid for the Palestinian territory, which has been under Israeli blockade for nearly 15 years.

US President Joe Biden spoke by telephone with his Egyptian counterpart on Monday for the second time in less than a week to discuss the relief effort.

Blinken said Wednesday the United Sates was in the process of providing more than $360 million in assistance to the Palestinian people.

 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he arrives in Cairo on May 26, 2021. (Photo by Alex Brandon / POOL / AFP)

 

This included $250 million in economic, development, security and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people announced in March and April.

On top of that, the administration intended to provide $75 million in additional aid to the Palestinians, as well as $5.5 million in immediate disaster assistance for Gaza, and nearly $33 million for an emergency humanitarian appeal by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

“All of these funds will be administered in a way that benefits the Palestinian people — not Hamas, which has only brought misery and despair to Gaza,” Blinken said.

Last week, Sisi pledged $500 million to help reconstruction efforts in Gaza.

Even before the fighting halted, he had sent ambulances into Gaza to bring out some of the most seriously wounded for treatment in Egyptian hospitals.

He has since sent in food and medical supplies through Egypt’s Rafah border crossing, the only entry point to Gaza not controlled by Israel.

– British FM in Jerusalem –

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab meanwhile travelled to Jerusalem Wednesday, also to back international efforts to shore up the ceasefire.

Speaking ahead of planned talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Raab urged an end to the “cycle of violence” through a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The events of the last month demonstrate the urgent need to make genuine progress towards a more positive future for both Israelis and Palestinians, and break (the) cycle of violence that has claimed so many lives,” he said.

The latest military escalation started after clashes in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, which is also revered by Jews as the Temple Mount.

Israeli security forces had moved in on Palestinian worshippers there towards the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

They had also sought to quell protests against the threatened eviction of Palestinian families from homes in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah to make way for Jewish settlers.

Israeli air strikes and artillery fire on Gaza killed 254 Palestinians, including 66 children, and wounded more than 1,900 people in 11 days of conflict from May 10, the health ministry in Gaza says.

Rocket and other fire from Gaza claimed 12 lives in Israel, including one child and an Arab-Israeli teenager, an Israeli soldier, one Indian national and two Thai workers, medics say. Some 357 people in Israel were wounded.

AFP

Egypt Pledges $500 Mn To Rebuild Gaza, Sends Medical Aid

Palestinians look for salvageable items amid the rubbe of the six-storey Kuhail building which was destroyed in an early morning Israeli airstrike on Gaza City on May 18, 2021. – The UN Security Council was due to hold an emergency meeting today amid a flurry of urgent diplomacy aimed at stemming Israel air strikes that have killed more than 200 Palestinians. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged Tuesday $500 million to help reconstruction efforts in Gaza, his office said, after a week of Israeli air strikes on the Palestinian enclave.

“Egypt will provide $500 million… for the reconstruction process in the Gaza Strip as a result of recent events, with expert Egyptian construction companies implementing the rebuilding,” the presidency said in a statement.

Cairo has sought to mediate a ceasefire between Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas and Israel since the deadly violence erupted on May 10.

Since then, Israeli air strikes have killed more than 200 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Twelve people have been killed on the Israeli side, according to authorities in the Jewish state.

Sisi is holding talks in Paris with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and Jordan’s King Abdullah II aimed at seeking a rapid truce to the lethal conflict.

Egypt also sent 65 tonnes of medical aid to neighbouring Gaza, its healthy ministry said.

With hospitals in Gaza overwhelmed by patients, the critical surgical supplies include specialist burns treatment as well as “ventilators, oxygen tanks (and) syringes,” Health Minister Hala Zayed said late Monday.

Sisi on Sunday ordered the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt — the enclave’s only border point not controlled by Israel — to open to allow wounded Gazans to be treated in Egyptian hospitals and to deliver aid.

Sources at Rafah on Tuesday said that 26 trucks of food had been sent to Gaza, with 50 ambulances ready to transport the wounded.

Egypt said it would make space in 11 hospitals nationwide at a capacity of over 1,800 beds.

Israel launched its aerial bombing campaign on Gaza after Hamas fired a barrage of rockets in response to unrest in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

The Israeli strikes have killed 213 people, including 61 children, and wounded more than 1,400 in Gaza, according to the health ministry.

The UN says nearly 40,000 Gazans have been displaced and 2,500 have lost their homes.

Strikes have knocked out the only Covid-19 testing laboratory in the blockaded enclave, the health ministry has said.

Egypt Sends Medical Aid To Gaza After Israeli Airstrikes

.
JACK GUEZ / AFP

 

Egypt has sent 65 tonnes of medical aid to neighbouring Gaza after a week of Israeli strikes left more than 200 Palestinians dead and hundreds more wounded, health officials said.

With hospitals in Gaza overwhelmed by patients, the critical surgical supplies include specialist burns treatment as well as “ventilators, oxygen tanks (and) syringes,” Health Minister Hala Zayed said late Monday.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday ordered the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt — the enclave’s only border point not controlled by Israel — to open to allow wounded Gazans to be treated in Egyptian hospitals and to deliver aid.

Sources at Rafah on Tuesday said that 26 trucks of food had been sent to Gaza, with 50 ambulances ready to transport the wounded.

Egypt said it would make in space in 11 hospitals with over 900 beds.

Israel launched its air campaign on the Gaza Strip on May 10 after the enclave’s rulers, the Islamist group Hamas, fired a barrage of rockets in response to unrest in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Israeli air strikes have killed 213 Palestinians, including 61 children, and wounded more than 1,400 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The UN says nearly 40,000 Palestinians have been displaced and 2,500 have lost their homes.

Strikes have knocked out the only Covid-19 testing laboratory in Gaza, the territory’s health ministry has said.

-AFP