Numerous reports indicate that the global Muslim Brotherhood has stepped up its efforts to help defeat the Israeli blockade of the Gaza designed to pressure Hamas into stopping the firing of rockets into Israel. On Wednesday, AFP reported on the detention of Gamal Abdel Salam, described as Egyptian Brotherhood activist who heads the emergency relief committee at the Cairo-based Union of Arab Doctors, on charges of forming a “criminal group” tied to Hamas. The report indicates that the Doctor’s Union had organized relief convoys for Gaza that were blocked by the police:
On Wednesday, a prosecutor charged two Brotherhood activists and a blogger campaigning for the permanent opening of Egypt’s Rafah border crossing with Gaza with “forming a criminal group belonging to (the Palestinian Islamist group) Hamas,” a judicial source said. Gamal Abdel Salam, one of the activists charged, heads the Egyptian doctor’s syndicate relief committee, which has organised several relief convoys to the Gaza Strip that were blocked by Egyptian police. Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip after Hamas violently seized power there last year. The Rafah crossing, which Egypt has refused to open permanently, is the only passage to the coastal strip not controlled by Israel.
A Reuters report adds that the Doctors Union is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and in addition to the convoys, had been active in collecting donations for Gaza. The involvement of the Doctor’s Union in soliciting donations is confirmed by an article on the fund-raising campaign posted on Islam Online, the new portal associated with global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi. The Doctor’s Union is also known to be a member of Qaradawi’s Union of Good, a worldwide coalition of charities collecting money for Hamas that was recently designated as a terrorist entity by the U.S. government.
Earlier this month, Reuters had reported on the arrest of 60 Egyptian Brotherhood members including the organizers of protests against the role of Egypt in supporting the blockade. A pan-Arab daily had also reported that that Hamas and the Egyptian Brotherhood were attempting to organize protests against the Gaza blockade outside Egyptian embassies in European and Arab countries in an effort to pressure Egypt into using its influence in order end the blockade.
Other branches of the global Muslim Brotherhood were also continuing their efforts to defeat the blockade. Israeli media have reported on the support given by the Jordanian Brotherhood for a ship intending to sail from Jordan to Gaza:
A group of Jordanian Islamists will set sail for the Gaza Strip from the Jordanian port of Aqaba on December 20 with the aim of breaking the seige of the Palestinian territory, the leader of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood movement announced Tuesday. The decision was announced at a press conference attended by leaders of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood movement and its political arm, the Islamic Action Front (IAF). The Brotherhood’s leader, Hammam Saeed, said that the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip were being exposed to “a tragedy as represented by an appalling and inhuman blockade that had reached new proportions by preventing them from performing pilgrimage.” Gazan Muslims have been prevented from performing their obligatory pilgrimage, or Hajj, duties due to the ongoing blockade of Gaza and infighting between Hamas and Fatah, the two rival Palestinian organizations. Saeed urged Egypt to re-open the Rafah crossing point between Gaza and Egypt in order to allow thousands of pilgrims to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform hajj rituals at the Grand Mosque of Mecca due to begin on Saturday. The Brotherhood leader also unveiled a series of activities and demonstrations to be launched throughout the country in the run-up to the ship’s sailing on December 20.
Last week, the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), the umbrella group representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, issued a statement accusing Israel of “terrorizing civilians” in Gaza by means of the blockade.
Last winter, there was a flurry of activity by global Brotherhood groups in connection with the Israeli blockade including statements by Egyptian Supreme Guide Mohamed Mahdi Akef and the U.K. Brotherhood group the British Muslim Initiative, demonstrations by the Jordanian Brotherhood, and a letter-writing campaign conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The Islam Online island in the virtual world known as Second Life scheduled a rally in support of lifting the blockade.