Gaza Activists Detained on Egypt's Territory

The Egyptian foreign ministry decided that the Viva Palestina aid convoy to the Gaza Strip must go through the Mediterranean port of Al Arish.

The decision delays the arrival of much needed goods, while criticism continues over its closed border with the territory.

The Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt is the only crossing point into Gaza not subject to Israel's blockade.

In the past Egypt has helped Palestinians in need to cross the border from Palestine.

However, during Israel's offensive on the strip at the end of 2008, it would only allow medical supplies in and casualties of war out, reports.

It was also reported, as Egypt distances itself from the problems of Gaza as if it were a strategic liability, instead of championing the humanitarian and political cause of occupied Gaza, it is arguably missing an opportunity to regain its long lost regional leverage.

Over the last several years, Egypt has seen its role greatly diminished. The regime's preoccupation with its own stability and succession and the rise of regional powers, like Iran and Turkey, against the backdrop of unprecedented foreign military intervention in the region, have all shoved Egypt to the sidelines, reports.

News agencies also report, on Sunday, 300 French nationals met at the French Embassy, where they were scheduled to board a chartered bus to drive to the Rafah border post. When they learned that there were no buses, and that Egyptian authorities were barring them from driving past the Sinai town of Al Arish, “we immediately decided to block the street,” says Kauff Alain, a protester from Strasbourg, France.

That street is Sharia Mourad, a major eight-lane thoroughfare in the Cairo district of Giza that is home to the Cairo Zoo, Cairo University, the French and Saudi embassies, and the Four Seasons Hotel, among dozens of other landmarks.

Between 250 and 300 French protesters blocked traffic there for an estimated three hours, turning Giza’s gridlock into an even bigger grind and provoking the wrath of Egyptian police. The protesters were corralled onto the sidewalk in front of their embassy and surrounded by two rows of several hundred baton-wielding riot police who held them there for two days.

“They told us, either you go to the sidewalk in front of your embassy, or we are going to do something to you,” says Loubna Amar, a demonstrator from Lyons, France, who was let out of the makeshift pen on Tuesday morning, The Christian Science Monitor reports.

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