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Cablegate: 100 Gaza Marchers En Route Rafah

VZCZCXYZ0002
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #2396 3641459
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 301459Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4597
INFO RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2096
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 1999
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 1106
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 1245

C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 002396

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/30/2019
TAGS: PREL CASC ASEC EG
SUBJECT: 100 GAZA MARCHERS EN ROUTE RAFAH

REF: CAIRO 2391

Classified By: DCM MATTHEW TUELLER
REASONS: 1.4 (B) and (D)

1.(SBU) MFA Cabinet Advisor for Palestinian Affairs Ahmed Hamshari told poloff Dec 30 that 100 Gaza marchers had departed Cairo en route to Rafah crossing at approxmimately 1200 local time, pursuant to a GOE offer to allow as many to access Gaza via Rafah. The remainder of the would-be marchers, likely over 1000, remained in Cairo, according to Hamshari. Approximately 40 of the 100 approved to travel to Gaza were Amcits.

2.(C) The GOE had offered to allow 100 of the marchers to proceed to Rafah as a compromise on Dec 29. MFA Director for Palestinian Affairs Hisham Seif el Din told poloff Dec 29 that according to the GOE offer, the 100 must remain in Gaza for no longer than 24 hours, and must depart Egypt within 48 hours after returning from Gaza. The 100 were to be selected on a proportional basis drawn from the various nationalities of the marchers, and the GOE required that an Amcit Holocaust survivor wo had began a hunger strike be included in the group. Seif el Din said the GOE had also requested that the marchers agree to cease demonstrating in Egypt. Both Hamshari and Seif el Din expressed personal frustration with the compromise offer, fearing it would set a precendent for future demonstrators to travel to Gaza via Rafah. Seif el Din said the Egyptian State Security Services (SSIS) had been tasked with brokering the compromise.

3.(U) FM Aboul Gheit publicly criticized the Gaza freedom marchers generally on Dec 30, claiming the marchers wanted to harm Egypt and the Egyptian people. Regarding the compromise offer, he said the GOE had agreed to choose marchers whose intentions were trusted to deliver a message of support from the Egyptians to the Palestinians.

4.(U) Egyptian SSIS reported no Amcit arrests or detentions from amongst the marchers. Some Amcit marchers received American Citizen Services during the morning of Dec 30; Amcit complaints focused on USG failure to pressure the GOE to allow the marchers to enter Gaza. Some additional Amcits arrived at the Embassy over the course of Dec 30 and asked to voice their political concerns to Ambassador; they were advised that consular services were available if needed. Scobey

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