Egypt Seizes Gaza AID, Arrests Islamists

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El-ARISH, Egypt, Feb 13, 2009 – Egyptian police on Thursday seized 2,200 tonnes of food and medical aid destined for the Gaza Strip and arrested two members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood responsible for the goods.

Hossam al-Shurbagi and Kamel al-Shaarawi, members of the Doctors Syndicate’s committee for aid to Gaza and responsible for three warehouses that were raided in northern Sinai, were arrested, Shurbagi told AFP from in detention.

A security official said that the two were accused of illegally storing goods.

Shurbagi said the aid was being stored pending a reopening of the Rafah crossing, which Egypt closed on Feburary 5 to all but exceptional cases after opening it to aid and wounded Palestinians during Israel’s war on Hamas.

During the 22-day conflict, which ended on January 18, the Egyptian authorities several times prevented the Brotherhood — of which Hamas is an offshoot — from demonstrating and delivering aid to Gaza.

More than 1,000 members of the banned movement were arrested during the Israeli offensive while trying to take part in demonstrations in support of Gaza, with most subsequently released.

Egypt has refused to open Rafah permanently in the absence of EU monitors and representatives of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas after Hamas ousted his forces from the territory in deadly fighting 18 months ago.

The Muslim Brotherhood is banned by the government but fielded independent candidates in 2005 parliamentary elections, winning a fifth of the seats despite fraud and police intervention.

Arrests of its supporters have increased since the group’s success in the election, in which it contested a limited number of seats.

(source ANTARA/AFP) Kirim Pesan YM

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