Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

Israel ditches the go-between

CAIRO (IPS) - Senior Egyptian officials have indicated that the new demands raised by Israel for ceasefire could affect the peace negotiations between Israel and Hamas being brokered by Egypt. Israel abruptly announced its refusal Wednesday last week to sign on to an Egypt-proposed ceasefire deal with Palestinian resistance factions before the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The proposed agreement — which Egyptian officials had said was imminent — calls for the phased reopening of the Gaza Strip’s borders. 

Border politics slows aid to Gaza

CAIRO (IPS) - Egyptian authorities are continuing to prevent humanitarian aid from crossing the border into the Gaza Strip, according to local sources. “Until now, only about a quarter of all humanitarian aid to arrive in Egypt has made it across the border into Gaza,” Hatem al-Bulk, journalist and political activist, told IPS. “It’s all piling up in al-Arish because the authorities are refusing to let it through the Rafah border crossing.” Al-Arish is located some 40 kilometers west of the border in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. 

Little hope from new US mediation

CAIRO (IPS) - Egyptians seem at best only cautiously optimistic over the appointment of Senator George Mitchell as United States envoy to the Middle East. Mitchell is mandated chiefly with settling the Arab-Israeli dispute. “Mitchell’s prospects for achieving an acceptable settlement are grim,” Ahmed Thabet, political science professor at Cairo University told IPS. “The previous US administration created several facts on the ground which will be very difficult to undo.” 

Egypt on offensive after critical Al-Jazeera coverage

CAIRO (IPS) - Coverage of Israel’s recent war on the Gaza Strip by regional news stations has reflected longstanding political divisions within the Arab world. Qatar-based Al-Jazeera’s reporting drew a particularly angry response from Egypt. “Coverage of the Gaza conflict by certain Arab language news channels aggravated the rift between the Arab ‘moderate’ and ‘rejectionist’ camps,” Mohamed Mansour, professor of mass media at Cairo University told IPS

Hamas' political victory

CAIRO (IPS) - Despite declarations of victory by Israel, the military assault on the Gaza Strip failed to achieve its stated aims, many analysts say. The assault, and even its exceptional brutality, may only have vindicated the notion of resistance among the Arab public. “The steadfastness of the resistance in Gaza in the face of Israeli military power has resuscitated the idea of armed resistance,” Gamal Fahmi, political analyst and managing editor of the Egyptian opposition weekly al-Arabi al-Nassiri told IPS

Egypt bent at the border

CAIRO (IPS) - Tens of thousands of houses inside the Gaza Strip were destroyed by air strikes and artillery during Israel’s recently concluded military campaign. Areas along Egypt’s border with the hapless enclave, meanwhile, have not been immune from the devastation. “Dozens of homes on the Egyptian side of the border were badly damaged as a result of nearby Israeli air strikes,” Hatem al-Bulk, journalist and political activist, told IPS. “Most people living within two kilometers of the frontier have left for safer locations.” 

Gaza war divides Arab governments from people

CAIRO (IPS) - Street protests against Israel’s assault on Gaza continue to be held almost daily. The anger has not ended with the ceasefire called. In Cairo, and in many Arab capitals, much of the anger is directed at the Egyptian regime, seen by critics as complicit in the Israeli campaign. After three weeks of punishing assaults from air, land and sea, the Palestinian death toll has soared past 1,200, most of them civilians. 

Resistance rejects international Gaza force

CAIRO (IPS) - Since the outset of Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, calls have been renewed for an “international force” to protect the civilian population. But Palestinian resistance factions, chief among them Hamas, reject the idea outright. “The resistance will not accept international forces [in the Gaza Strip],” Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas’s Damascus-based political bureau said recently on Syrian state television. “We know that such forces would only serve Israel and its occupation.” 

Ceasefire moves fading away

CAIRO (IPS) - A week after the unveiling of a Franco-Egyptian ceasefire proposal aimed at stopping the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian resistance faction Hamas and on the face of it Israel, are still discussing the fine print of an agreement. “Details of the proposal remain unclear,” Abdelaziz Shadi, coordinator of Cairo University’s Israeli studies program told IPS. “Both sides are still in the process of studying its terms to determine whose interests it serves.” 

Egypt closes Gaza border to aid

CAIRO (IPS) - Egyptian authorities have almost fully sealed the border with Gaza, preventing delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid. “The government has expressly forbidden the entry of aid convoys laden with food into the Gaza Strip,” Emmad al-Din Moustafa, member of the Popular Committee for Aiding Gaza told IPS. “The continued border closure — like the Israeli assault itself — constitutes a crime against humanity.”