Egyptian authorities arrest 10 after a pro-Gaza rally calling for severing ties with Israel

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities this week arrested 10 activists who participated in a pro-Palestinian protest where they accused the government of contributing to the siege of Gaza and called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, a human rights lawyer said.

Egypt’s government has condemned Israel’s campaign in Gaza and has played a central role, along with the U.S. and Qatar, in trying to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. But it has largely banned public protests, and criticism of the country’s ties with Israel is highly sensitive.

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On Wednesday, nearly 200 people rallied outside the building of the Journalist Syndicate in Cairo, waving the Palestinian flag 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.”

Egypt-Arrests

Egyptian activists hold bread as they participate in a pro-Palestinian protest outside the building of the Journalist Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, April 3, 2024. Egyptian authorities arrested 10 activists who participated in the protest where they accused the government of contributing to the siege of Gaza and called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, a human rights lawyer said. The Arabic reads: “long live Palestine, down with Zionists.”  (AP Photo/Mohamed El Raai)

Government critics have called for Egypt to overturn a 2007 agreement that grants Israel the right to inspect convoys entering Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. They say it has allowed Israel to keep the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians at a trickle.

Later 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.

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Egypt declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization in 2013, after the military removed President Mohammed Morsi, who hailed from the Brotherhood, from power after a year of divisive rule. Since then, authorities have cracked down on all forms of political dissent and banned protests.

Since the outbreak of Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7, Egyptian authorities have arrested dozens of pro-Gaza protesters, according to a report issued by the rights group Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

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