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Torturing the Palestinians will not create security

When our friend made a statement calling for the Rafah crossing to be opened to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, he was faced with accusations of slander in a story in al-Ahram newspaper on October 10th, from so-called "politicians" who said that his statement indicated his ignorance of Egypt's national security needs. The story also noted that Mr Hamdeen Sabahi, founder of the Egyptian Popular Current and a co-leader of the National Salvation Front, had met with a number of Hamas representatives, led by Dr Mousa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau.


Mr Sabahi then went on to make a statement that aggravated the politicians, who I imagine would know more about what has happened than anyone else, and who I, therefore, would have expected to take a stronger stand and more responsibility when sharing their opinions. Yet statements in al-Ahram reveal that some of these members of the new Egyptian elite suffer from a lack of insight and knowledge. This applies to a long list of the members of the elite who appear on television.

The fundamental point that these politicians counted on was that opening the Rafah crossing would be a threat to the Egyptian national security. Yet, no one has mentioned why it poses a threat nor have there been any incidents that support this argument. They have relied upon the common impression amongst the Egyptian public that Hamas, who governs the Gaza Strip, poses a threat to Egypt's security and that the tunnels dug by the Gazans to overcome the blockade and to supply themselves with necessities are "nothing but means to smuggle weapons and terrorists into Sinai in order to turn them into a base for international terrorism."

This last quote was actually alleged by one of the politicians who spoke to al-Ahram (and is a spokesperson for the leftist opposition party, Tagammu), who also said that Egypt will not feel that its borders with Rafah are completely safe until Hamas's government falls because Hamas are an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood. Although others have repeated the same idea in one way or another, I am quoting the left-wing leader, who has almost fully adopted the Israeli point of view of Hamas, to show just where the right-wing in Egypt is heading.

On many past occasions I have refuted the idea that the tunnels are a threat, by urging people to look at the facts and not the popular impressions of the tunnels and Hamas being a threat to Egypt's security. Over time, this impression has turned into a belief that settled amongst the masses, as well as the political and security elite. It has come about as a result of media campaigns and the promotion of such ideas by those who would benefit from poisoning the relationship between Egypt and Hamas and from dealing a blow to the resistance and ensuring the continued blockade on the Palestinians in order to humiliate and suppress them. There is no doubt that Israel stands to benefit the most from this, nor can we deny the role played by the Palestinian Authority security agencies in Ramallah, who have a score to settle with Hamas. Documents were recently published which revealed efforts by these agencies to drive a wedge between Hamas and Egypt's people and government.

The political geniuses who have spoken about the threat Hamas and the tunnels pose have surrendered to the unfounded lies of the media and have shown an astonishing willingness to accept the continued blockade on Gaza, ignoring the suffering of over 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. If this blockade continues, it might affect Egyptian security, who such individuals claim to care for.

Yet if the Rafah crossing was opened and supervised by the Egyptian authorities, like any other border crossing, it would protect the interests of both the Egyptians and Palestinians.

We cannot protect Egypt's security by doubling the suffering of the Palestinians, and security cannot be provided and maintained unless an agreement that protects both the Egyptian and Gazan interests is reached. This can only be done once Egypt makes its own decisions and frees itself from outside calculations and pressure from parties who do not wish Egypt or the resistance in Gaza well.

I continue to remind everyone that impartiality over the Palestinian cause is one of Egypt's national standards, and therefore, if in the name of security you are partial to the torture and humiliation of the Palestinians you will not be being patriotic and will be giving a free gift to Israel.

This is a translation of the Arabic text which appeared in Shorouk Newspaper on 14 October, 2013

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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