Cairo students demonstrate against Israel

Salma Shukrallah , Wednesday 27 Apr 2011

Students march from Cairo University to the Israeli embassy, demanding an end to normalisation with Israel

Cairo students

In response to news spread about a statement made by Israeli President Shimon Peres to Israeli Radio, asking the Middle East youth — and particularly that in Egypt — to revive relations with Israel, hundreds of Cairo University students demonstrated, demanding Egypt cut all ties with Israel.

The demonstration was called by several university student groups including the Socialist Students, the Haqy Movement (My Right), Tahrir Movement, Amal Students (Labour), the Coalition of Democratic Students, and Egyptians Against Zionism. The demonstration’s ad read: “Shimon Peres has asked for normalising relations with Israel and this is how we will respond to his call in front of Israel’s embassy”.   

The students gathered on Wednesday in front of Cairo University’s central dome from which they started marching through the streets of Giza towards the Israeli embassy. At the Israeli embassy the students shouted slogans, demanding an end to the Camp David Accords and against Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

A vast red banner read: “Long live the resistance … Down with complicit Arab governments,” signed by the Socialist Students. The students chanted: “The people’s first demand is to close the embassy and send back the ambassador,” and “Bring down the flag,” referring to the Israeli flag hanging from the 15-story building where the Israeli embassy is located on the last floor.  

Several of the building’s inhabitants, including families and office employees, watched the demonstration from their windows. The building was surrounded by several military vehicles as well as tens of armed guards.   

During Mubarak’s rule, the building where the Israeli embassy is located was highly secured by police that used to beat up or arrest protesters long before they even approached it. Since Egypt’s January 25 Revolution and the withdrawal of the Egyptian police, several demonstrations have been staged in front of the embassy condemning Israel’s occupation of Palestine and demanding an end to Egyptian relations with Israel.

Earlier on Wednesday, pipelines supplying gas to Israel and Jordan were blown up. This is the second time the pipelines have been attacked ever since the January 25 Revolution and the third time in an interval of one year. The agreement by which Egypt sells gas to Israel has long been criticised and legally challenged. Israel enjoys well below market prices for gas from Egypt. The current interim government has promised to reexamine the agreement.

Students chanted in the demonstration against the gas agreement and called for a march on 15 May, planned in memory of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe), marking the forced expulsion by Zionist militias of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from Palestine in 1948. 

In what looks like an attempt to improve Israel’s popularity among the Egyptian youth, the Israeli embassy in Cairo has created a Twitter account through which it posts Israeli achievements in Arabic.

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