‘Palestine is our compass’: BDS Egypt holds protest in solidarity with Palestinian ‘intifada’

Alia Soliman , Monday 19 Oct 2015

Egytpian Protesters chant against Israeli occupation Outside the press syndicate in Cairo, 18 October (Photo:Mai Shaheen)

Hundreds gathered at Cairo’s Journalist Syndicate on Sunday to protest the crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces against Palestinians. Protesters were seen holding Palestinian flags, declaring that Palestine is the compass for all Arabs.

In a press conference that followed the stand-in, several figures expressed their support for the Palestinian resistance and added that the Palestinian cause must be called an Egyptian and an Arab one as well.

The event entitled “Palestine is our compass” was organised by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Egypt, in coordination with the Journalists Syndicate and the Popular Movement.

Palestinians have been protesting for weeks against Israel's attempts to build more settlements in East Jerusalem and force Arab residents out of the portion of the holy city that is intended to be the capital of any future Palestinian state.

Nearly 40 Palestinians, including alleged attackers, have been killed and hundreds more wounded in the Israeli crackdown on Arab protesters so far, while seven Israelis have died and dozens have been wounded from attacks.

Many think that protests may spark a third Palestinian intifada. The first two intifadas in 1987-1993 and 2000-2005 saw thousands killed and many more wounded in near daily violence.

Taher Mokhtar, one of the speakers at the conference and a member of the BDS Egypt movement, told Ahram Online that the Palestinian resistance that has been mounting in recent weeks is the beginning of a third intifada.

The BDS movement, which has garnered worldwide support and success, first established an Egyptian branch in April.

BDS was first launched in 2005 and has since persuaded millions to join their academic, cultural, and economic boycott of Israel, causing companies to lose some of their biggest contracts and forcing them to divest assets.

Karem Mahmoud, secretary general of the syndicate and one of the speakers at the conference, stated that the syndicate of Palestinian journalists organised a protest in Palestine Sunday morning calling for more support of Palestinian media.

Mahmoud condemned some of the media’s coverage of the unrest in Palestine and added that some big newspapers in the Middle East have been adopting Israeli narratives. He called for the need to change the Arab media’s narrative to a pro-Palestine one.

Ex-ambassador Massoum Marzouk said during his speech that he is ashamed that we cannot properly stand in solidarity with Palestinians.

“Hundreds are marching in rallies in Europe. Meanwhile, we in Egypt are incapable of organising a rally in solidarity with Palestinians” Marzouk added.

Mokhtar said that Egypt’s role in supporting Palestinians has been weak and sluggish, adding that the ongoing siege on Gaza and the flooding of the borders makes Egypt appear to be on Israel’s side.

Egyptian forces have reportedly flooded tunnels to Gaza in a move to stem smuggling.

The network of tunnels was a vital lifeline for Gaza, bringing in goods and circumventing a blockade imposed by Israel.

Last year, Egypt’s military announced that since January 2011 it has destroyed a total of 1,813 smuggling tunnels in the Sinai Peninsula.

Mokhtar said that the Rafah border must be opened for a longer time. Egyptian authorities have, for the most part, kept the Rafah crossing closed since October 2014, following attacks by Islamist militants in Egypt's governorate of North Sinai which left over 30 security personnel dead.

The authorities have, on occasion, opened the crossing for an average of three-day periods, allowing those in need of medical care to travel to Egypt, and permitting other Palestinians to travel in either direction.

Cairo has accused the Islamist movement Hamas, the de facto rulers of the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip, of aiding militant groups in northern Sinai. Hamas has repeatedly denied the accusations.

Mokhtar added that boycotting Israel is one of the best tools to use against the occupation.

Masoum Marzouk
Ex-ambassador Massoum Marzouk while speaking at the press conference (Photo:Alia Soliman

On Tuesday, the deputy secretary-general of the Arab League Ahmed Bin Hali called for international protection of Palestinians, saying it had become a necessity.

Egypt, which has recently won a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, vowed to make Palestine a 'top priority' on its UN agenda.

Ahdaf Soueif, a prominent Egyptian novelist and political commentator who was present at the stand-in, agrees with Mokhtar and says that boycotting Israel is essential to the Palestinian cause.

Ahdaf Soueif
Ahdaf Soeuf prominent Egyptian novelist and political commentator while speaking at the press conference (Photo: Alia Soliman)


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