FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Egypt’s Steel Wall

Those pesky taxi drivers of Gaza are always circulating rumours. One story that made the rounds during the first Palestinian uprising in 1987 claimed that an Arab army crossed the Sinai desert to save Palestinians from the daily killings and protracted state of siege which caused untold suffering for civilians.

The army in question would change from time to time, but the focus inevitably returned to Egypt. The rumour of an Egyptian military intervention persevered through the years, and it registered deeply in Palestinian psyche, especially among those living in Gaza.

My father, as many in his generation, fought in the Egyptian army and the Palestinian Liberation Army. Following defeat in the war of 1967, he was hauled along wounded and dead Egyptian soldiers across Sinai, as well as on a floating army bridge over the Suez Canal under intense Israeli aerial bombardment. As a child, I once accompanied him on a journey to an impoverished neighborhood in Cairo to look for an Egyptian war buddy of his. When we found out that he was long dead, my father wept. Confused and scared among the ailing buildings, I too cried. Indeed, the bond between Egyptians and Palestinians is historical, everlasting, cemented in blood, sweat and tears.

Yes, everlasting, despite the responses of the Egyptian government to the more recent suffering of Palestinians in Gaza.

When the Palestinian people democratically elected Hamas to lead the Palestinian legislature in 2006, they were aware of the possible repercussions. They have become accustomed to the ‘collective punishment’ employed every time actions fail to meet Israeli expectations. They also understand well the influence of the pro-Israel lobby on American foreign policy, and know of Cairo’s commitment to political ‘moderation’ and unabashed tiptoeing to the US. But never, in their wildest imagination did Palestinians foresee the measures that Egypt would take to stifle their democratic decision, suppress their resistance and cut off the very lifelines that keep Gaza breathing.

Israel has employed every possible trick in its book to weaken Gaza’s resolve; yet time after time, it has failed miserably. Even after turning the already starving Gaza Strip into a large and inescapable killing field on December 27, 2008, Gaza is yet to surrender. Three weeks of ceaseless bombardment killed over 1,400 Palestinians and wounded over 5,500 more, but it was no match to Gaza’s resolve.

Indeed, Gazans have always devised ways to survive against the odds. With difficulty, they dug tunnels to Egypt, and through these tunnels, basic necessities, such as food, medicine, toys, and some livestock were able to trickle into Gaza. On February 4, 2009, shortly after Israel declared an end to its one-sided military operations, military experts from various, mostly Western countries gathered in a two-day conference hosted by Denmark.

The goal was to halt arms smuggling into Gaza, and not, as should have been the case, to investigate Israel’s illegal use of lethal weapons against an unarmed population. Nor was it to call on various countries to halt their weapon exports to Israel.

The response was a moral travesty, to say the least. However, the news regarding this subject ceased for a while, interrupted by an occasional Israeli strike at alleged tunnels, or an Egyptian measure to ensure the closure of all tunnels at its side of the border. Meanwhile, the siege continued unabated, and Egypt held tight to its ‘commitment’ to ensure its success.

More recently, news of an enormous metal wall that Egypt erected at its border with Gaza has come to the fore. The Egyptian decision is both politically and financially loaded. Considering that the US – spurred on by Israel – has strived to develop ways to completely choke Gaza, one can safely conclude that the decision has not come solely from Egypt, though as a sovereign country the latter must still be held fully accountable. According to Press TV, Karen Abu Zaid, United Nations Relief and Works Agency Commissioner-General described the wall as more dangerous than the Bar Lev Line, which was built by Israel along the eastern coast of the Suez Canal following the capturing of the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in 1967. The Egyptian wall is arguably more dangerous because it will increase the suffering of an already tormented civilian population.

But more than dangerous, it is also disheartening. Palestinians, including some in the Hamas government never cease to refer to Egypt and Egyptians as “Sister Egypt” and “Egyptian brethren”. Why then are Sister Egypt and the Egyptian brethren taking part in this injustice and allowing Israeli violence to perpetuate? Money? Political validation? Attempts at regional relevance and fear of dismissal if they dare defy Washington’s will?

None of these reasons are convincing. The ties between Egypt and Palestine are too rooted in history; the rapport is too personal, too familial to allow for material or temporary political interests to stand in the way between two ancient peoples with awe-inspiring histories. Now I fully appreciate why my father wept at the death of his Egyptian friend. And I believe that no steel wall is large or thick enough to undermine that moment; no government policies or self-seeking officials are wicked enough to dent the bond that link the peoples of Palestine and Egypt. I also believe that there should be no amount of money large enough to justify the imprisonment of a whole nation, especially one’s own “brethren.”

I wonder what is the latest rumour circulated these days by Gaza’s taxi drivers. A million Egyptians storm the border with Gaza, carrying food, medicine and toys? Strangely enough, I would still believe it. Those pesky drivers of Gaza!

RAMZY BAROUD is editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London). His newbook is, “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London).

More articles by:

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: ramzybaroud.net

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Justin Anderson
Don’t Count the Left Out Just Yet
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail