Egypt gets ready for Palestinian Nakba Day

Salma Shukrallah and AFP, Friday 13 May 2011

Army steps up security around Sinai peninsula as Egyptian activists plan march towards Gaza border on Nakba Day

A boy holds a Palestinian flag during Friday prayers at Tahrir Square in Cairo
A boy holds a Palestinian flag during Friday prayers at Tahrir Square in Cairo May 13, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany

As hundreds of activists prepare to send a convoy to demonstrate at Egypt's border crossing with Gaza in Rafah, Egyptian authorities are on high alert.

According to AFP, Egyptian authorities on Friday blocked access to the Sinai peninsula, where it stepped up security to prevent the planned march from Cairo to Gaza.

The march is planned to leave from Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Saturday to reach Rafah on Sunday. It is calling for the right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their land and demanding that Egyptian authorities release all Palestinian prisoners in Egypt.

The march is planned to reach the Gaza borders on Nakba Day (15 May), the day in which Palestinians were forcibly evicted from their land and homes to establish the state of Israel.

AFP's correspondent reports that the “Peace Bridge”, one of the main access routes to Sinai from mainland Egypt, has been closed to all except residents of the peninsula. However, 15 Egyptian activists trying to reach Rafah from Cairo say they managed to cross the bridge but were stopped right after in Kherba, halfway between the “Peace Bridge” and Rafah. As of yet, they do not know if they will be allowed to pass.

The army has also stepped up security around the peninsula, a security official told AFP.

Demonstrations in solidarity with Palestine and in preparation to the Palestinian 15 May Nakba Day have been staged in several Egyptian cities including Cairo, Suez and Arish.

Thousands have joined early morning prayers in several mosques in Cairo carrying Palestinian flags from where they marched to Tahrir Square, the heart of Egypt’s revolution.

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