Egypt – What Can I Say?

// August 16th, 2008 // Blog

It seems the government of Egypt still feels indebted to the Children of Israel, for all that nasty slavery business back in the day of Moses, peace be upon him. Which means they are now willing to do anything to make it up to them; including helping to maintain the oppression of another group of innocents, by denying the transport of essential medical supplies into Gaza via their border with Israel.

Well, better late than never, eh guys? {shakes head}

Taken from a press release written by “EGYPT LET THE Scottish VAN CROSS TO GAZA NOW & End the Siege” Facebook group:

After nearly one month of waiting at the Rafah crossing for Egyptian (Israeli) authorities to give permission to take the van full of medicine to Gaza, and after countless meetings and forms, today, Friday, at 12 noon, Khalil arrived at the Rafah crossing to take the van away.

The Egyptian authorities repeatedly refused any and all suggestions regarding delivering the medical supplies, whether through the Rafah crossing, the Kerem Abu Salem crossing (Kerem Shalom), or via the Egyptian Red Crescent. That, along with the declaration by Israeli authorities, via the PA embassy representative, that there was 'no way the van would ever cross through Kerem Abu Salem' led Khalil to decide, with no other option, to take the van from the crossing and begin the journey home.

Egyptian authorities presented many and varied the bureaucratic excuses to justify their refusal to allow entrance to the medicine. The latest was that the medicine was not accounted for in an item by item list. As the medicine was donated by various generous supporters in the UK, Al Niss and Willis did not have one list with receipts to present to Egyptian authorities. Yet Egyptian authorities refused the suggestion to have a third party, like the Egyptian Red Crescent, unload and supervise the itemizing of the medical supplies.

Khalil described his huge disappointment and frustration at not even being allowed to pass the medical supplies over to Red Crescent authorities to send to Gaza. On Thursday, Khalil had met with the Rafah customs authorities, based in Al Arish, to discuss this possible hand-over of the medical cargo. He left the office with an document approved and signed by Ismail Abbas, the former General Manager of Customs in Rafah, now a Manager in the Arish branch, as well as by Khalil Attala Khalil, the Assistant to the Customs Minister. The document authorized the hand-over of the medical supplies, from Khalil al Niss to the Red Crescent, with a further stipulation that the RC would do their utmost to ensure the medicine was sent to Palestinian land, meaning Gaza.

Egytian customs authorities at the Rafah crossing itself vetoed the order flat-out, stating that Khalil was not authorized to unload the van and give its contents to anyone else. Yet Abbas countered that “if anyone has a customs paper in his/her name, he/she has the right to give the cargo to whoever is specified on that paper. Then the contents belong to the recipient.” Abbas, extremely forthcoming and helpful, was in the end no match for Egyptian bureaucracy, and Egypt's determination to show deference to Israel rather than allow humanitarian aid in through any legal means.

Following Thurday's promise and disappointment, Khalil informed Gaza-based Dr. Khamis, the doctor Linda and Khalil had coordinated with to deliver the medicine to. Khalil was again told that whenever the medicine got into Gaza, it would be very welcome, still urgently needed.

Which brings us to Friday, what seemed to be the end of the long, fruitless effort to bring aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

After over an hour's wait, Egyptian authorities finally produced the paper releasing the van from its parked position at the border. The release paper stipulates Khalil must drive the van back to the Nuweiba border crossing and cannot unload it at any point in Egypt.
Even without that stipulation, it would be impossible to open and unload the van, as it had been locked by Egyptian border officials upon arrival at Nuweiba nearly one month ago. The border officials also send a Police guard, to ensure Khalil drove to Nuweiba and left the country.

About 20 km away from Rafah the van stalled, technical problems. Three hours later, problems fixed, Khalil continued the drive back to Al Arish.

But, during this delay, one branch of Egyptian intelligence, the Mokhabarat, called Khalil to ask what his rush was. After 26 days at the closed Rafah crossing, and unccounted appeals to allow the medicine in, the man had the gall to imply Khalil was rushing off without due process. It need not be reiterated that he had been told by Egyptian officials he would not cross via Kerem Abu Salem.

Haithem, the Mokhabarat officer, suggested Khalil wait around another 3 weeks, as Kerem Abu Salem might open to goods going into Gaza.

This seems to be a very poor attempt by the Egyptian authorities to insinuate that Khalil and Linda aborted their humanitarian effort due to lack of interest. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In calling their bluff, Khalil will consider this dangling carrot, this false offer of the Kerem Abu Salem possibility. But I don't think he is too crazy about carrots.

9 Responses to “Egypt – What Can I Say?”

  1. Marahm says:

    OMG, I hate to read this sort of thing.

    Here’s another factor in this mess: Unless the medicine inside the van was temperature controlled (read: refrigerated), much of it may have deteriorated as it languished under the August Middle Eastern sun.

  2. Organica says:

    You know? This is a daily occurrence in Palestine everyday. People pay ambulances to take them through checkpoints if they want to make it to work on time or catch an important meeting….

  3. Tariq Chowdhury says:

    “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.” – Albert Einstein

  4. Shahrzad says:

    I have so many problems with Egyptian government.. too..

  5. Organica says:

    I assure you the government’s actions don’t reflect the people of Egypt. Most Egyptians are very passionate about the Palestinian cause, even if they don’t do much about it–which is the case of the entire Ummah I suppose.

  6. … I agree with Tariq… <– no idea what to say

  7. Shahrzad says:

    Dont get me wrong. I didnt point egyptian society. I was talking about the government. Since Iranian extremist government does not reflect the culture of Iranians, i am sure same goes for the rest of muslims.

    Up to the time there are currepted governments ruling muslim population, those who are wolves with the mask of sheeps, who advertise that they send money for palestinians, but under the table, they sign contracts with Israel, ( like Qatar ), i can never except any change in the situation of muslims.

    I assure you that i am sure Egyptians are very much better than Persian Gulf filthy rich Arabs. Bcs they’ve had so many movements against injustice in the world.

  8. iMuslim says:

    More news from the group:

    Khalil is going back home
    To members of EGYPT LET THE Scottish VAN CROSS TO GAZA NOW & End the Siege

    Micheline Garreau
    Today at 2:35pm

    Khalil is heading back home after the Egyptian authorities refused the van entry with the medicine donated from the Scottish people to the people
    of Gaza.. Watch Khalil’s message to the Egyptian government,
    Palestinians and the world.

    english video

    the arabic video

    The Scottish van is heading back home to Scotland. The Egyptian authorities refused entry to the van and refused to deliver the great Scottish people’s gift to the people of Gaza.
    Please, accept my apologies on behalf of the Egyptian people. I feel so ashamed every one was so frustrating, Eva was crying and everyone felt defeated by cowards.

    We’re under siege too, please accept our apologies..
    Khalil is in Cairo now to fix the van and bugging them in Cairo, they deserve it. He’s heading back home soon I think.
    More news and photos later.

    So Sorry,


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