Sunday, February 8, 2009

Corrupt Egyptian system: feeds the IDF, starves Gazans, oppresses journalists

Corrupt Egyptian system: feeds the IDF, starves Gazans, oppresses journalists

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Once upon an alleged democracy, the Egyptian government decided a couple of days ago to try the journalist Majdi Hussein, the secretary-general of the Egyptian Labour party in a military court - even though he is a civilian - because he broke the law when he tried to "illegally enter the Gaza Strip".

One wonders what is legal and what is not when it comes to Gaza. It seems the law in Egypt is extremely elastic and can accommodate all manipulations and tailoring of the law to fit different sizes of growing plots. The good old Egyptian system is abiding by the law to the letter, and that’s why it wants to try a journalist in a military court for entering Gaza ‘illegally’ while the good old authority was providing the Israeli military ‘legally’ with tons of foods through the Gaza crossings while blocking any food sent to the starved to death children of Gaza who were burned to the bone by white phosphorus by that same Israeli army Egypt was feeding.

Last month the opposition Egyptian newspaper Alosbooa ‘The Week’ revealed in one of its reports a controversial story that was not refuted by the authorities about the Egyptian company ‘International Union of Food Industries’ which was providing the Israeli army with large quantities of homegrown Egyptian vegetables during the aggression on Gaza, since the very first day of the aggression.

The report revealed that the Egyptian trucks were loaded with tons of frozen local grown vegetables from the company stores in the city of Sadat to the Israeli company "Food Channel", through Al Awja crossing between Egypt and Israel. One of the drivers said that he has made these deliveries many times to Israel but he was hiding this fact from his relatives and neighbours in Albadry neighbourhood at Assalam city, and that he used to tell them that he was delivering goods to other Arab countries, or the delivery is heading towards far ports like Savaja because he was embarrassed to tell them the truth. Other drivers said they no more feel embarrassed or ashamed of doing so because their government itself has normalized relations with Israel years ago. The workers in the company said that the food was repackaged with Hebrew writing, showing the expiry date and the contents, and that the food has been prepared according to Jewish religious rules. Thus indicating that it complied with the traditional religious Jewish parameters, and that’s why the company imposed a cordon around the place, keeping stored bags, boxes, posters and empty cartons away from the sight of intruders, not allowing any of the workers or the staff to approach the packaging area, and searching every worker at the end of his shift before leaving.

Contrary to what was expected, trade exchange between Egypt and Israel because of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians has increased notably to 4 billion dollars in addition to exports of oil and gas.

Regarding the journalist Majdi Husse, this was not his first encounter with the Egyptian authorities. He was Chief Editor of an Egyptian Islamic bi-weekly when he was imprisoned for 4 months along with the journalist Muhammad Hilal in 1998 with charges of defaming former Minister of the Interior in Egypt, Lt. Gen. Hussein al-Alfi.

Hussein said he was prevented twice by the Egyptian authorities from entering the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing point, forcing him to take an alternative route to get into the Palestinian territories.

The Egyptian prosecutor in Al-Arish city said the decision to put Hussein on military trial (even though he is a civilian) came after three days of investigations with him, and that he was arrested upon his arrival to the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza. The trial of Hussein is expected to be held on Thursday.

The Labour party in Egypt considered subjecting one of its top officials to a military trial as a grave violation of human rights, since he is a civilian, and commented that Majdi's decision to get into Gaza Strip was driven by his "nationalist, Islamic, and popular considerations, and that Majdi's determination to enter the Strip reflects the general feeling in the Egyptian street to lift the siege on Gaza and to open the Rafah crossing point before the Palestinian people.”

Majidi is not the only Arab journalist Egyptian authorities prevented from entering Gaza, the Al-Jazeera team was denied entry into Gaza too. The Egyptian authorities denied two of Al-Jazeera’s top journalists Ahmed Mansour and Ghassan Bin Jiddo entry into the Gaza Strip without explaining the reasons. Especially since Egypt had granted entry into the Gaza Strip to foreign and European journalists.

In a telephone call with his satellite channel, Mansour confirmed that the Egyptian authorities told them that they (he and bin Jiddo) were denied entry, at a time it granted many journalists of different nationalities the right to enter the Strip.

"We presented our identification documents to the Egyptian authorities and requested permission to enter the Gaza Strip as other journalists did, but we were denied entry," added Mansour.

Mansour also said that the Egyptian officials stopped answering their telephone calls, but he stressed that the Al-Jazeera team will remain at the borders till a rational reason by the Egyptian authorities is given to justify such action.

Hence, according to the law-abiding Egyptian authorities, it is illegal to open the crossing to allow food and aid to the starved Gaza children, but it is legal to feed the Zionist army who were barbecuing Gaza children. It is legal to allow foreign journalists to cross to the Gaza haven, but it is against the law to allow Arab journalists to cross the borders to investigate or offer emotional support. It seems it is legal to stand on the borders and watch a full nation being killed and not only to stand idly doing nothing, but also to punish those who intend to help.

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