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Cablegate: Rafah Border: Guard Killed by Palestinian Sniper;

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #0060/01 0111327
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 111327Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4712
INFO RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2101
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1271
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 2009
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 0703
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 1111
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 1255

S E C R E T CAIRO 000060

SIPDIS

NSC FOR AGUIRRE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/20/2020
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR KPAL TU EG
SUBJECT: RAFAH BORDER: GUARD KILLED BY PALESTINIAN SNIPER;
LIFELINE 3 ENTERS/EXITS GAZA; BTADS ON HOLD

REF: A. CAIRO 2397 (2009) B. IIR 6 899 0140 10 C. CAIRO 2394 (2009) Classified By: DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION MATTHEW TUELLER FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) and (D)

1.(S) Summary. An Egyptian border guard was killed by a "Palestinian sniper" Jan 6 during protests against Egypt's steel wall on the Gaza/Egypt border. Separately, the Viva Palestine/Lifeline 3 convoy traveled to Gaza via Egypt Jan 6-8 with approximately 500 people and 198 vehicles. FM Aboul Gheit expressed displeasure with Turkey over the convoy to visiting Codel Hastings Jan 10; it was unclear if this has been communicated directly to Ankara. Installation of an FMF-funded tunnel activity detection system along the Egypt-Gaza border is currently on-hold given the protests and ongoing security concerns. End summary.

2.(C) On January 6 MFA and MOD contacts confirmed that a "Palestinian sniper" killed an Egyptian border guard during protests along the Philadelphi strip south of Rafah crossing near the Salah el Din area. MFA Director for Palestinian Affairs Hisham Seif el Din told poloff Jan 6 that the shooting occurred as 600-800 protesters on the Gaza side of the border demonstrated against the steel wall (ref a). GOE contacts told emboff Jan 11 that the incident may have been the result of an escalation from rock throwing on the Palestinian side, followed by Egyptian warning shots, and ultimately gunfire from the Palestinian side. Reuters reported Egyptian forces killed two Palestinians but MOD contacts denied this (ref b). It was unclear to what extent border breaches by Palestinians into Egypt had occurred. Media reported Jan 9 that Hamas leadership had offered condolences to Egypt over the border guard. On Jan 11 Seif el Din told poloff the border was quiet for the moment. LIFELINE 3 CONVOY -----------------

3.(C) Separately, Viva Palestine's "Lifelife 3" convoy (which included British MP George Galloway and a convoy of vehicles carrying aid) arrived at Rafah crossing from al Arish on January 6, entered Gaza, and departed Cairo Jan

8.Turkish CDA Sadi Altinok told poloff Jan 11 he had been in constant communication with the MFA and Ankara over the convoy, which had included 240 Turks (out of 500 demonstrators total) and 198 vehicles. The group had an assortment of approximately 140 mini-busses, ambulances and pickup trucks from Turkey and Britain (arriving at Arish from Latakia, Syria), and had added an additional 48 sedans (arriving separately from Turkey) to the convoy in Arish.

4.(C) Altinok said 7 demonstrators were "detained" briefly by the GOE following confrontations with security forces on Jan

6. He said the detainees had scuffled with police when the group was told it would be restricted to the Arish airport until their entire convoy had been assembled; Altinok said the demonstrators had "detained" two Egyptian police officers in return. Turkish MP Murat Mercan (one of 5 Turkish MPs traveling with the convoy) had mediated a release of the demonstrators and police after a couple of hours, according to Altinok. (Note: Altinok said one of the 7 detained demonstrators had been an Amcit - NFI. End note).

5.(C) FM Aboul Gheit told visiting Codel Hastings Jan 10 (septel) that Egypt was upset with Turkey's role in "facilitating" the convoy. He said he would formally convey Egypt's unhappiness, noting (the Turks) "had better be careful." Altinok made no mention of receiving any such complaint during his Jan 11 meeting with poloff. He said although the MFA had expressed displeasure with the Lifeline 3 convoy, the Egyptians had not objected to Ankara's handling of the situation. Nevertheless, Altinok said he had warned Anakara Jan 9 of the potential for ruffled Egyptian feathers, and Turkish FM Davutoglu had sent a note Jan 10 to Aboul Gheit thanking Egypt for its cooperation and assistance in handling the delicate issue of the convoy. BTADS ON HOLD -------------

6.(S) Installation of an FMF-funded tunnel activity detection system along the Egypt-Gaza border is currently on hold given the protests and ongoing security concerns (ref C). OMC plans on meeting with MOD officials soon to discuss the security situation before redeploying the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the border. As the installation was previously running ahead of schedule, the delay has not changed the anticipated April 2010 completion date. SCOBEY

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