CAIRO: The death of Egyptian border guard Ahmed Shaaban in Rafah could have been caused by friendly fire, claimed Al-Shorouk columnist Fahmi Howeidi in an article published Monday.
Shaaban, 22, was shot during a demonstration on the border Jan. 6 when Gazans amassed near the Salahuldin Gate at the border town of Rafah. It was the same time the Viva Palestina convoy was entering the Strip.
Howeidi cited an investigation by the Gazan Ministry of Interior which stated that when a 14-year-old Palestinian boy climbed one of the Egyptian border towers to plant a Hamas flag, an Egyptian soldier shot at him and two of the bullets hit Shaaban.
The investigation also cited the report of the Assistant Health Officer in the North Arish Hospital which claimed that Shaaban had been fatally wounded by gunfire he received in his back, not his chest, which leads to the conclusion that the shots came from behind him on the Egyptian side.
“I am not advocating this scenario, Howeidi wrote, “but I am calling for an investigation into it . I am aware that there are many who have an interest in adopting the version presented by the Egyptian media and which even triggered calls that reached declaring war on Gaza.
A source in North Sinai told Daily News Egypt, “There is much speculation on how Shaaban died, but the health officer in North Sinai says two bullets entered his body, one under the arm from behind and another straight in from the back.
Gazans converged at the border to protest Egypt’s treatment of the international aid convoy and its construction of an underground metal barrier on the border to block the smuggling tunnels. Protestors threw stones across the border. In the ensuing gunfire some 10 Palestinians were wounded including two teenagers who were critically injured.
The day before, Viva Palestina members clashed with police forces in Al-Arish after the authorities refused to allow some 48 vehicles of the convoy into Gaza, triggering the clashes which took place the following day.