Israel-Palestine war: Four foreign activists ‘disappeared’ in Cairo following pro-Palestine protest

International activists including a US politician have been ‘unreachable’ after they were escorted inside the Egyptian foreign ministry on Thursday

By Katherine Hearst
Dec 1, 2023

Four international activists have been detained and held incommunicado for over 27 hours following a pro-Palestine protest outside the Egyptian foreign ministry in Cairo on Thursday, according to activists familiar with the case.

The group included John Parker, a candidate for California’s 27th congressional district, along with Australian, Argentinian and French activists.

They staged a rally on Thursday outside the foreign ministry to demand security clearance for the Global Conscience Convoy – a humanitarian convoy into Gaza planned by Egypt’s Journalist Syndicate to deliver badly needed aid to the besieged enclave.

They have not been heard from since they were escorted into the building at 12:30pm on Thursday, according to Egyptian activists familiar with the matter.

The group was detained after they unfurled a banner emblazoned with the slogan “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free,” said one activist.

“They held the banner for a minute or two maximum,” the Egyptian activist who was in touch with the group told MEE on condition of anonymity. “Then, two security men escorted them inside the building. They’ve been detained since.”

The group had written a letter to President Abd-el Fattah el-Sisi, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry requesting permission for the convoy, saying that “we have made earnest efforts to join any convoy…providing humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people…however we have encountered significant challenges in obtaining the necessary permits as non-Egyptians.”

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The convoy, which had recently been refused permission by the Egyptian authorities, was intended to march from Cairo through the Rafah crossing, the sole gateway in and out of Gaza not directly controlled by Israel, into the strip between 17 and 24 November.

The convoy, which included international NGOs and activists, was intended to open the Rafah crosssing for the sustained flow of international aid into the besieged enclave, and to facilitate the entry of medics, journalists, lawyers and relief crews into Gaza and the evacuation of injured Palestinians out of the strip.

The latest Israeli onslaught on Gaza since on 7 October, which has killed over 15,000 Palestinians, sparked widespread street protests in Egypt last month, with thousands rallying in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 18-day revolution of January 2011 that culminated in the resignation of then-President Hosni Mubarak.

Hundreds were reportedly detained following the protests, reflecting the Sisi government’s strict policy towards unauthorised protests based on the widely denounced 2013 assembly law.

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