Ideological opponents from across the political spectrum have banded together to launch campaigns to lift the siege on Gaza and reopen the Rafah crossing. The initial aim of the campaign is to officially reopen the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza on the 10th of Ramadan. The date is not coincidental, as the start of the October war in 1973 was also the 10th of Ramadan that year. Political forces from parliament, the Labor and Karama parties, the Doctors’ Syndicate and the Kefaya movement have all come together to launch the campaign. However, the driving force behind the campaign and the body giving it the greatest impetus is the Muslim Brotherhood. They have begun two parallel campaigns working in tandem, one aiming to lift the siege on Gaza and the other looking to reopen the Rafah crossing. The Rafah crossing had been opened earlier this week for two days during which more than 3,000 people crossed the border. Head of the Muslim Brotherhood bloc at the People’s Assembly Saad El Hossieny submitted a questioning in parliament to Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif where he criticized Egypt’s role in the blockade of Gaza. Asking for an explanation for why Egypt insisted on keeping the crossing closed, Hosseiny said “Is it inconceivable that the Zionists open the Rafah crossing and then the Egyptians shut it down suffocating fasting Palestinians?” A statement released by the Brotherhood announcing the formation of the two campaigns said that opening the crossing for a mere two days prior to Ramadan was akin to “silencing the sounds of the gun of resistance in Palestine whether in Gaza, which is under Egyptian siege by Israeli orders, or the West Bank.” The statement warned that the siege was a ticking time bomb that would explode in Egypt’s face. At a press conference at the Doctors’ Syndicate Wednesday to launch the campaign, another Brotherhood MP Saad Aboud said that Egypt refuses to reopen the Rafah crossing so that it would not have an Islamic emirate as its neighbor (in allusion to Hamas’ rule of the Strip).
In line with this campaign, Reuters has reported that The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was one of the groups participating in a convoy that was trying to reach Gaza.. According to the report:
Egyptian police stopped three convoys of buses heading towards Gaza on Wednesday in what organisers called an attempt to break the blockade of the Palestinian territory, police and witnesses said. The first convoy of four buses could not travel beyond a toll station near the Suez Canal town of Ismailia, they said. “Before Ismailia the security forces closed the road and took away the driving licences of the drivers,” said Badr Mohamed, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the opposition groups taking part. More than 150 people stood by the side of the road, chanting slogans in support of the Palestinians, he added. A second convoy of about the same size left Cairo but also could not reach the border, a security official and organisers said. Police also stopped a smaller convoy shortly after leaving the Mediterranean port of Damietta. Police tightened procedures along the main road to the border town of Rafah, checking the identity of travellers and asking them the reason for their journey, one activist said. The Egyptian government contributes to the blockade of Gaza by refusing to open the Rafah crossing point without Israeli approval, as agreed in a 2005 deal with the Israelis. Along with many opposition groups, the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition force in the country, favours ending the blockade and opening the border for goods and people. In August two boats carrying foreign peace activists reached Gaza from Cyprus in defiance of the Israeli government’s wishes.
In late August, a Jordanian newspaper reported that the Jordanian Brotherhood had asked permission from the Egyptian government to cross the border at Rafah in order to break the blockade. According to that report (see source below):
The Muslim Brotherhood movement has requested permission from the Egyptian government to cross the Rafah border to enter Gaza in an attempt to break the embargo imposed on the coastal enclave, top leaders said on Thursday. “We have sent a letter to the Egyptian embassy asking to facilitate our entry through Rafah and we hope they cooperate with us,” Hamam Said, overall leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, told The Jordan Times. Said noted that the movement is also studying the possibility of arranging a shipment of aid through the port city of Aqaba or the Mediterranean to Gaza. On Wednesday, a delegation of activists, including leaders from the Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, were refused entry to the Egyptian embassy.
(Source: “MB Requests Egyptian Permission To Enter Gaza Through Rafah Border”Report from the “At a Glance” Column: “Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan requests entry into Gaza” Jordan Times Friday, August 29, 2008)