Over 350 protesters were wounded on Sunday during a Nakba Day demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo.
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According to reports picked up by Reuters on Monday from the Egyptian state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA), police fired tear gas at a crowd of several hundred after demonstrators breached a barricade on Sunday night.
MENA reported that out of 353 people wounded in front of the embassy, 45 were taken to hospitals and 186 were detained by the military.
“The injuries varied from suffocation caused by tear gas and bruises to
minor injuries caused by shoving,” Abdel Hamid Abaza, a senior Egyptian
health and population ministry official, told MENA.
Egypt’s government-controlled Al-Ahram newspaper reported that the crowd
had been dispersed by central security and military police forces on
Sunday at around 11 p.m. Rubber bullets and tear-gas grenades were used,
and eyewitnesses said live ammunition was fired, according to Al-Ahram.
Yigal Palmor, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, said no member of the
Cairo embassy staff had been injured. “We think the Egyptian security
forces have shown competence and responsibility,” Palmor said.
When asked whether Nakba Day demonstrations in Egypt signaled trouble
for Egyptian- Israeli relations, Palmor responded, “I think it’s quite
clear that the demonstrations managed to attract only a relatively small
crowd, so they are no indicator of the future of the relationship.”Al-Ahram
reported on Sunday
that protesters carried Palestinian flags and chanted, “The people want
to dismantle Israel.” The demonstration reached “a couple of thousand”
people by 4 p.m. that day, according to Al-Ahram, which also stated that
Egyptians wanted to demonstrate at their country’s border with Israel
but were prevented from doing so because the Sinai was sealed off.
Protesters also chanted, “The people’s first demand is to shut down the
embassy and send back the ambassador” and “Egyptians will liberate
Palestine,” the newspaper said. Many wore “Third Palestinian Intifada”
T-shirts which were sold “all over downtown Cairo,” Al-Ahram said.
Norman Finkelstein, controversial author of The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering
, attended the demonstration and was scheduled to speak at the American University in Cairo on Monday, Al-Ahram reported.
AFP reported that demonstrators killed in Nakba Day protests in southern
Lebanon were buried on Monday, and that schools and shops in
Palestinian refugee camps there were closed for a day of mourning. The
IDF blamed most and possibly all the casualties on the Lebanese Armed
At the funeral of Muhammad Salem at the Al-Bass refugee camp in Tyre,
the crowd shouted, “Your blood will not die, we will have vengeance,”
and “There is no God but God, our martyr is God’s beloved,” AFP said.
Various reports put the total number of Nakba Day demonstration
deaths at around 13, which includes about 10 killed in southern Lebanon.
Israel was condemned by Arab and Iranian leaders for opening fire on protesters.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted by Reuters as
saying in a televised speech regarding the victims, “Their precious
blood will not be wasted. It was spilled for the sake of our nation’s
Taher al-Nono, a spokesman for Hamas in the Gaza Strip, said, the
“crowds we have seen in Palestine, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon” are
evidence of “imminent victory and return to the original homes as
promised by God,” according to Reuters.Al-Ahram
said Egyptian Foreign
Minister Nabil el-Arabi, who was appointed secretarygeneral of the Arab
League on Sunday, “placed the blame for the deterioration of the
Palestinian crisis on Israel and asked them to respect human rights,
which stipulate the right to protest peacefully, and warned them to
avoid using violence.”
The newspaper also stated that Arabi felt Israel’s actions showed “that
Israelis do not understand the sweeping changes in the Middle East that
will also affect Palestine.”
In a statement from Hezbollah carried by AFP, Secretary- General Hassan
Nasrallah commented on Nakba Day events along the Lebanese and Syrian
borders: “We must bow before the courage, the bravery, of those who
protested yesterday at Lebanon and Syria’s borders with occupied
Palestine, who faced the tyranny of the enemy with bare chests and their
heads held high.”
He added, “Your message, loud and clear, to the enemy is that you will
liberate your lands, that the fate of this entity [Israel] is demise,
and that no initiatives, treaties or borders will protect it. You, the
honorable, have given the Nakba new meaning.”
Lebanese Foreign Minister Ali Shami was quoted by Lebanon’s Daily Star
newspaper as condemning “the criminal act which Israel has committed
through targeting unarmed civilians.”The Daily Star
Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement issued a statement calling
Israel’s actions “a violation of Lebanese sovereignty and a direct
aggression on it through opening fire toward Lebanese territories.”
Meanwhile, Siamak Mareh Sedgh, who represents the Iranian Jewish
community in the Iranian Parliament, told Iran’s Islamic Republic News
Agency that Iranian Jews “express indignation over Zionist regime
violence and remind that the inhuman actions of Israel have no
compatibility with pure and divine guidance of Prophet Moses.”
Iranian MP Avaz Heidarpour, a member of the parliament’s security and
foreign policy commission, told the Fars News Agency in Iran on Monday,
“The Zionist regime’s fear for regional revolutions and anti-Zionism
rallies throughout the world was the reason behind the massacre of the
Palestinians on Nakba Day.”
A Nakba Day demonstration was also held at the Israeli consulate in Alexandria, Egypt, on Friday.