CAIRO: Egyptian authorities again prevented the departure of an aid caravan destined for Gaza on Saturday, and arrested two journalists at the caravan’s assembly point outside Cairo’s State Council.
According to one of the two journalists arrested, Ahmed Abdel-Fatah, a State Council employee was also briefly detained at the scene after he took photos of the events but was released almost immediately.
This is the third time that an aid caravan has been prevented from reaching Gaza.
Last week Amnesty International warned that “the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip is having ever more serious consequences on its population. In the past month the supply of humanitarian aid and basic necessities to Gaza has been reduced from a trickle to an intermittent drip.
The caravan was timed to coincide with Monday’s Eid holiday. Abdel-Fatah told Daily News Egypt that the selection of the State Council was a deliberate choice.
“After the second caravan was stopped in Ismailia and activists on board arrested we raised a case challenging the authorities’ prevention of aid caravans reaching Gaza, Abdel-Fatah said.
“The administrative judiciary [of the State Council] ruled in our favor, he added.
Between 40-50 people including members of parliament assembled outside the State Council on Saturday morning but were encircled by central security troops, according to Abdel-Fatah.
“There was a huge security presence along the length of the street on which the State Council is located, Abdel-Fatah said.
News portal Abnaa Misr reported that police physically assaulted Hamdy Hussein, the spokesman for the Popular Committee for Ending the Siege of Gaza as well as Kefaya head Abdel Galil Mostafa and university professor and activist Yehia El-Qazzaz.
Abdel-Fatah, editor of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Ikhwan Online website, was arrested while filming the events.
He was taken to the Dokki police station where he was detained for approximately six hours before being transferred to State Security Investigations for questioning.
He was released without charge the same evening.
Aya Youssef, a journalist with the Egyptian Radio and Television Union who was arrested at the scene, was released without charge at midnight on the same day after appearing before the public prosecution office.
Abdel-Fatah says that Youssef was questioned at the police station about leaflets she was carrying at the time of her arrest.
In unrelated events, two members of the April 6 Youth Movement were arrested on Monday while handing out leaflets in Imbaba, Cairo, after the Eid prayers.
Abnaa Masr website reported that while the public prosecution office ordered the release of one of the two men, Ahmed Ashraf, the other, Nour Hamdy was remanded for four more days on Tuesday.