Cable sobre el apoyo de Egipto a Gaza

Date:2009-01-15 15:54:00
Source:Embassy Cairo
Dunno:09CAIRO17 09CAIRO2 09CAIRO26 09CAIRO3 09CAIRO63 09CAIRO68 09CAIRO7
DE RUEHEG #0081/01 0151554

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 CAIRO 000081



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/15/2019

REF: A. CAIRO 0068
B. CAIRO 0063
C. CAIRO 0026
D. CAIRO 0017
E. CAIRO 0007
F. CAIRO 0003
G. CAIRO 0002

CAIRO 00000081 001.2 OF 003

Classified By: Minister Counselor William R. Stewart
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)


1. (SBU) Gilad visits; leaves disappointed. Demonstrations in
support of Gaza continue throughout Egypt. Public opinion is
strongly pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli; Israeli pilgrims
are barred from a holy site. Embassy consular officers
prepare for a potential evacuation of American citizens and
possibly other nationalities via the Rafah border crossing.
USAID procures medical supplies for distribution in Gaza. An
Iranian ship allegedly carrying humanitarian supplies for
Gaza was denied entry to an Egyptian port. End summary.


2. (S) Egyptian Ministry of Defense sources report Israeli
air attacks continued along the Egypt/Gaza borderline. There
were no munitions or collateral damage reported to have
struck Egypt.


3. (C) Israeli envoy Amos Gilad met with EGIS chief Omar
Soliman in Cairo January 15. According to diplomatic
sources, the Hamas comments relayed by Soliman were "not what
he'd (Gilad) wanted to hear." No time was announced for a
return visit. Embassy will seek a more detailed read out.

4. (C) Arab League summit: MFA Cabinet Advisor Mahmoud Afifi
told us January 14 that the Qatari initiative for a Doha
summit had failed, with the Qataris only obtaining the
support of 14 member states (one short of the required
two-thirds quorum). Afifi explained that the Egyptians
(along with the Saudis) had called for a discussion of Gaza
at the "consultative summit" in Kuwait for Economic and
Social Development, as opposed to a separate extraordinary
summit, as had been called for by Qatar. For an
"extraordinary summit," the decision making includes the AL
SYG and host, as well as the current Arab League Presidency
(Syria). According to Afifi, the decision making process for
a "consultative summit,8 includes the Arab League Secretary
General (Amre Moussa) and the host country (in this case
Kuwait). This procedural difference would have allowed for
Qatar to invite Hamas (and potentially non-Arab states) to
the Doha summit, according to Afifi, something the Egyptians
adamantly oppose. (Note: Arab League rules and procedures
are often mystifying; a review of the Arab League charter
support Afifi,s argument, but also appears open to other
interpretations. End note.)

5. (C) Gaza-based Hamas representatives held a press
conference January 14 in Cairo, at which they appeared to
agree in principle to the Egyptian terms for a cease-fire,
but also that Hamas had issues with some aspects of Egypt,s
plan. The Hamas representatives also stressed that Hamas has
no grievance with Egypt, or its efforts to facilitate a
resolution of the crisis.


6. (U) Police prevented protestors from demonstrating in
front of the Embassy at 1300 local time on January 15. Calls
for the protest originated on a Facebook site, and the leader
of the Islamist opposition Labor Party announced he would
participate. We estimate that the police presence in the
area of the demonstration was over one thousand personnel,
and police stymied protestors, efforts to arrive at the
site. Only about five people, possibly including the Labor
Party leader, managed to reach the demonstration site 50
yards north of the Embassy, and police quickly detained them.

CAIRO 00000081 002.2 OF 003

7. (U) The independent press reported that 1,000 protestors
from various political groups took part in a conference
January 14 in the Nile Delta town of Behira to support
Gazans, and that 3,000 mostly Muslim Brotherhood
(MB)-affiliated protesters demonstrated January 14 in the
coastal town of Port Said. The MB claimed that 3,000 of its
members demonstrated January 14 in the Delta town of
Damanhour, 1,000 lawyers from various opposition backgrounds
demonstrated January 14 in the Delta town of Kafr El-Sheikh,
and 2,000 women demonstrated at the doctors' syndicate in the
Delta town of Damietta.

8. (C) A human rights NGO contact told us January 15 he
believes that although the Egyptian public is angry and
frustrated with the continuing Israeli operations in Gaza, he
has observed a growing trend of ordinary Egyptians supporting
the GOE's policies of publicly criticizing Hamas, pursuing
diplomatic steps toward a cease-fire and protecting Egyptian
sovereignty. He commented that the GOE is trying to disrupt
the political opposition's attempts to organize
demonstrations by arresting opposition members. According to
press reports quoting MB Supreme Guide Mehdi Akef, 860 MB
members have been arrested since December 27, in connection
to Gaza-related demonstrations.

Public Opinion

9. (SBU) On January 14, dueling Gaza-related press
conferences were held at parliament, by the ruling party and
opposition blocs. The National Democratic Party (NDP) MP,s
focused their comments on praising President Mubarak,s
actions to date, and attacking Syria, Iran, Qatar, Hezbollah,
and Hamas. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) MP,s were harshly
critical of GOE actions -- or lack thereof -- to date, and
repeated calls for revoking the Camp David Accords, halting
gas exports to Israel, cutting diplomatic and trade relations
with Israel, and opening the Rafah border crossing. The MB
also called for "Arab countries to have nuclear weapons like
Israel." Independent MP Mustafa al Bakri, who has been
linked to the security services in the past, has presented a
draft bill to parliament, that would "freeze" the Camp David
Accords. The speaker of parliament, Fathi Surour, is unlikely
to allow the bill to make it to the parliamentary floor for

10. (SBU) Salafists Declare Border Closing "Un-Islamic":
According to opposition newspaper Al Dustour, four
influential Egyptian Salafists joined a statement by
approximately 100 Muslim scholars from throughout the Arab
world criticizing the GoE,s closure of Gaza border crossings
as "un-Islamic." The Egyptians include two Al Azhar
University professors, the editor of the Salafist magazine Al
Tawheed, and the leader of Al Sunna Al Mohamadeya, one of
Egypt,s oldest and largest Salafist social service
organizations. A former member of Egypt,s parliament who is
affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood also reportedly joined
the statement.

11. (C) Israelis Barred from Pilgrimage Site: According to
press accounts, 5 Israelis who attempted to visit the tomb of
Abu Hasirah, a 19th century Jewish mystic, were prevented
from doing so yesterday by local security services. Israeli
Jews have regularly visited the site, located in the Nile
Delta village of Damanhour, since 1979, especially in the few
weeks before and after Abu Hasirah,s January 18 birthday.

12. (C) The pilgrimage has long been controversial. In 2001,
an Alexandria court invalidated a Ministry of Culture decree
recognizing the tomb as a historical site and banned the
annual celebration of Abu Hasirah,s birthday. Although the
Ministry of Culture appealed that decision, it was upheld in
2004 by Egypt,s Supreme Administrative Court. Despite the
court rulings, the GoE has permitted the pilgrimages and
celebration to proceed. The pilgrimage has been especially
controversial this year, with Islamists staging at least one
small protest in Cairo.

13. (C) The Israeli Embassy told us on January 15 that it is
unaware of any Israeli Jews being turned away from the tomb.
The Embassy said it contacted the Israeli organizers of the
pilgrimage shortly after the Gaza operation began and
suggested that they not arrange the pilgrimage this year.
According to the Embassy, the organizers heeded its advice
and few, if any, Israeli Jews have traveled to Egypt for the

14. (C) The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, an NGO

CAIRO 00000081 003.4 OF 003

focused on religious freedom which has followed the issue
closely, told us that it believes the account of the 5
Israeli pilgrims being barred is accurate and that the local
government may have legitimate security concerns.

Humanitarian Issues

15. (S) On January 14, 32 Palestinian causalities entered
Egypt through the Rafah Terminal for transfer to hospitals in
El Arish. Egypt also delivered 270 tons of medical aid
through the Rafah terminal. No aid was sent through the
al-Aouja terminal. The Red Crescent donated 218 tons of the
aid, and the rest was donated by Qatar, Sudan, Turkey, and
Morocco. Also on January 14, an Iranian ship arrived at El
Arish sea port claiming to have humanitarian aid for Gaza.
Egyptian authorities denied entry to the ship and escorted
the ship out to international waters.

16. (SBU) Possible Evacuation of Amcits: Preparations are
being made for the possible evacuation of an unspecified
number of American citizens and possibly other nationalities
from Gaza through the Rafah border crossing, if the GoE
agrees. The Embassy is working closely with Egyptian
authorities to facilitate the evacuation.

17. (SBU) USAID Efforts: USAID has procured medical
equipment and food supplies to distribute to health care
facilities in Gaza, including syringes, tubes, gloves, x-ray
film, tape, silk for sutures, and bedding (mattresses,
blankets, and linens) worth approximately $80,000. All items
have been distributed to the Patient's Friends Benevolent
Society and the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza. USAID Gaza staff
report that UNRWA shelters eat of Khan Younis need food,
milk, blankets and mattresses.
Families there receive only one meal a day.

18. (U) Media reports Israeli forces have shelled the UN
headquarters and other civilian targets in Gaza City,
including a hospital.
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