An alliance of mainly leftist organisations had called for the Gaza march to stress the interrelation between Egpytian souverainty, the demands for reforms and the Palestinian question. This can also be considered as a test to the regime’s willingness to undertake reforms. The organizers planned to hold a march to Gaza starting on May 15, accompanied by several caravans of humanitarian supplies. During the last weeks, more than four thousand persons had registered for participation. The ‘freedom caravan’ was stopped on Friday evening in the city of Ismailia at the Suez channel. The supplies were confiscated and ten particpants arrested. Other five hundred participants tried during the night to bypass the army blocks on foot.
Another caravan, composed of fifteen artists, was stopped by the army in the city of Arish, in the North of the Sinai, while it was heading to a meeting with Sinai bedouins before it goes to Gaza. More caravans gathered at the Salam bridge at the channel. In this moment, they are engaged in negotiations with the army.
Despite the army blocks, three thousand youth managed to reach Arish, which is located only 50 km from Gaza. There, they protested together with two thousand locals against the Gaza blockade.
At the same time, thousands of Egyptians in Cairo and Alexandria were demonstrating in commemoration of the Palestinian Naqba and in solidarity with Palestine. On Friday, thousands of protesters gathered in front of the Israeli embassy. They demanded to close the Israeli embassy, to cancel the gas contract with Israel (providing Israel with Egyptian gas at 20% of the market price) and to lift the blockade over Gaza.
On Sunday, activists will try again to reach the borders of Palestine.
Mobilisation weakened due to sectarian conflicts
The mobilisation was weakened following sectarian conflics in Cairo shanty neighbourhood of Imbaba. A substantial part of civil society is permanently protesting. Christians and Muslims are demonstrating hand in hand against sectarianism in front of the state TV Maspiro. As a consequence, the planned ‘Friday of Gaza march’ became a ‘Friday of national unity’. There were also demonstrations in favour of a civilian instead of a confessional state. The Muslim brotherhood joined mobilisations since they were also directed against the sectarian agitation of the Salafites, their rivals.
In any case, the military regime is substantially challenged. Its objective is to maintain the current order by introducing as little changes as possible and to end the protests. However, this contradiction will potentially provoke a confronation. Alongside the Palestinian question, the social question is the main challenge for the regime, both related to the central issue: the alliance with the USA.
The slogan set by the left organisaton to this action related the liberation of Jerusalem to the liberation of Cairo and vice versa. The reactions of the USA and Israel, as well as the measures taken by the Egyptian regime deliver daily proofs of the accuracy of this approach.