Bomb in Egypt Nile Delta city wounds 13 police, 3 civilians

Cairo – Egypt’s Interior Ministry says 16 people, including 13 policemen, have been injured in a bomb blast near a police training facility in the Nile Delta north of Cairo.

The ministry says Saturday’s bomb was hidden in an abandoned motorbike and that all the injured were hospitalised.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing in the city of Tanta, but the attack bore the hallmarks of several shadowy groups authorities say are linked to the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, was ousted in 2013 by then defense minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who was elected president a year later.

Egypt faces an increasingly emboldened insurgency by Islamic militants led by an affiliate of the Islamic State group in northern Sinai.

Minister urges Egyptians to donate to buy statue

Egypt’s antiquities minister urged his countrymen on Saturday to raise nearly $25m so that the country can buy back an ancient statue sold by the English Northampton Museum to an unknown party.

Mamdouh el-Damaty said a British ban on the Sekhemka statue leaving the country expires Friday, meaning it could end up in a private collection unless Egypt can buy it. Northampton Museum sold the statue in an auction July 2014.

The sale is deemed legal in Britain. Egypt, home to a massive wealth of ancient antiquities, banned their sale in 1983.

“What this museum is doing is considered an ethical crime against human and Egyptian heritage,” el-Damaty told journalists in Cairo. These pieces of history are given to museums “to spread information about civilisation, heritage, arts, and culture. Therefore, the final resting place for any antiquity is the museum.”

El-Damaty said this was the first time a known sale of an Egyptian antiquity from a museum has taken place, adding that Egypt has halted all dealings with the museum in protest of the sale.

The British government is trying to find a local buyer to be able to keep the statue inside the United Kingdom. El-Damaty is urging Egyptians, especially those in England, to buy the statue in order to have a say on where the statue ends up. He did not say why the government didn’t buy the statue itself.

The 4 000-year-old statue dates to Egypt’s 5th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, the same period when the Giza pyramids were built. The statue left Egypt in 1849, bought by the second Marquis of Northampton, Spencer Compton, before Egypt banned the sale of antiquities. Campton’s son gave the statue to Northampton Museum.

Egypt sentences Muslim Brotherhood leader to life in prison

Egypt’s state-run news agency says Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and 16 others have been sentenced to life in prison on charges related to the killing of five people in an attack on a police station in 2013.

The news agency report on Saturday says Badie and senior Brotherhood members Mohammed el-Beltagy and Safwat Hegazy were accused of inciting other Brotherhood members to attack the police station in the Mediterranean city of Port Said, and kill its officers and soldiers.

The court sentenced 76 others in absentia to the same punishment. Badie has already been sentenced to death and to life in prison in other trials.

The case is one of a series of mass trials involving supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood since they were toppled from power in 2013.

Egypt arrests 3 under terror law for spreading ISIS ideology

Egyptian police have arrested three individuals under a new anti-terrorism law who are accused of spreading Islamic State propaganda through Facebook.

The police directorate in the southern Sohag province said on Sunday the three had two laptops containing ISIS videos.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi approved a draconian law last week that sets a wide-ranging definition of terrorism and prescribes harsh punishments.

El-Sisi has waged a crackdown on Islamists and other opponents since 2013, when he led the military overthrow of the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president, during mass protests against his rule.

Following Morsi’s ouster, a long-running insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula surged, with attacks targeting security forces there and on the mainland. The most powerful insurgent group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group last year.

Death penalty sought for Egypt’s Badie

Cairo – An Egyptian court seeks the death penalty for the Muslim Brotherhood’s top leader Mohamed Badie and 13 other members of the group for inciting chaos and planning attacks on police and army institutions, judicial sources said on Monday.

The court formally referred the case to the Grand Mufti, the country’s highest Islamic legal official, which is the first step towards imposing a death sentence.

Egyptian law requires any capital sentence to be referred to the Mufti for an religious opinion before any execution can take place, although the Mufti’s ruling is not binding. Once the court issues a final verdict, set for April 11, the defendants can appeal it.

The 14 include the Brotherhood’s Salah Soltan, a preacher, and Saad al-Hosseiny, ex-governor of Kafr el-Sheikh province.

Egypt has jailed thousands linked to the Muslim Brotherhood since the army removed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi from power in July 2013, a year after he was elected, following mass protests against his rule.

As the top leader of the now-outlawed Brotherhood, Badie has already been sentenced to multiple life terms. He was one of hundreds given the death sentence in a mass trial last year that drew international criticism of Egypt’s judicial system.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief toppled Mursi, describes the Brotherhood as a major security threat.

The Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful activism and had nothing to do with recent Islamist militant violence.

The state news agency MENA said the judge overseeing Monday’s decision was Mohamed Nagi Shehata, who has played a prominent role in the Egyptian judiciary’s mass jailings of Islamist and liberal demonstrators.

Top Muslim body calls for crucifixion

Cairo – Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s most prestigious centre of learning, expressed outrage at the Islamic State (ISIS) group for burning to death a captive Jordanian pilot, saying its militants deserve to be killed or crucified.

After a video was released showing the caged fighter pilot, Maaz al-Kassasbeh, dying engulfed in flames, the Cairo-based authority’s head, Ahmed al-Tayib, expressed his “strong dismay at this cowardly act”.

This “requires the punishment mentioned in the Qur’an for these corrupt oppressors who fight against God and his prophet: killing, crucifixion or chopping of the limbs.”

“Islam forbids killing of the innocent human soul… It forbids mutilating the human soul by burning or in any other way even during wars against an enemy that attacks you,” Tayib added in a statement.

ISIS itself has implemented such punishments against its own members for robbery at checkpoints or stealing funds from religious endowments in territories controlled by the group in Iraq and Syria.

Police captain found dead in Egypt’s Sinai

Cairo – The body of a police captain was found in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday, two days after he was abducted by suspected militants, the military said.

The discovery comes after the bodies of nine civilians were found in the area on Saturday and Monday. They are thought to have been executed by the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis jihadist group for collaborating with security forces.

Armed forces spokesperson General Mohammed Samir said troops came across Captain Ayman al-Desouki’s body during operations against militants near the town of Rafah, on the border with the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

Ten militants were killed in the operations and 15 of their vehicles destroyed, Samir said in a statement published on his official Facebook page.

Series of campaigns

Militants thought to be from Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, stopped the bus al-Desouki was travelling on at an impromptu checkpoint on Sunday and took him away after checking his identity card.

Two policemen were killed in similar circumstances in November. Local residents say the militants frequently set up checkpoints in areas around Rafah.

Egyptian security forces have engaged in a series of campaigns since August 2011 to suppress jihadist groups operating in the remote desert peninsula bordering Israel and Gaza.

In recent months, residents have been evacuated to create a kilometre-deep buffer zone along the Gaza border.

Security forces have claimed numerous successes and the deaths of many militants. Activists say that civilians have also suffered severe losses to property and occasional fatalities in the campaign.

Due to restrictions on journalists operating in the area, which has been declared a military zone, such information cannot usually be confirmed.

Egypt court orders retrial of Mubarak in graft case

Egypt’s top appeals court has ordered the retrial of deposed president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons in a corruption case, a move that could pave the way for the former autocrat’s release.

The Appeals Court announced its ruling in a brief session on Tuesday, carried live on several Egyptian TV networks.

The earlier verdict had sentenced Mubarak to three years imprisonment and his sons, Alaa and Gamal, to four years each while four other defendants were acquitted. Mubarak’s lawyers appealed that ruling.

It’s the only case keeping Mubarak behind bars. When a new court is assigned to look into the case, it could order Mubarak freed pending the trial.

Mubarak has been cleared in the case over the killing of protesters during Egypt’s 2011 uprising.

Egypt jails alleged atheist

Cairo – A rights lawyer says an Egyptian court has sentenced an alleged atheist to three years in prison over posts on Facebook depicted as “an assault on religion.”

Lawyer Ahmed Abdel-Nabi said on Monday that a court in the Nile Delta province of Beheira sentenced Karim al-Banna, a 20-year-old student, after holding a single session during which lawyers were denied the right to present their defense.

He said that al-Banna was arrested in November, after he went to a police station to file a complaint that some villagers had assaulted him. Instead, he was arrested over allegations that he is an atheist.

Abdel-Nabi said al-Banna will be free, after paying 1000 Egyptian pounds ($140) in bail until his appeal is heard.

The lawyer described the verdict as “shocking.”

Egypt’s El-Sisi to meet head of World Jewish Congress

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will meet head of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) Ronald Lauder in Cairo on Sunday, a presidential statement said.
Lauder arrived in Cairo from New York on Sunday for a few hours visit to discuss regional issues including Palestinian-Israeli relations, state news agency MENA reported.

The WJC is an international organisation that represents Jewish communities and organisations in almost a hundred countries.

Egypt has a small Jewish community headed by 62-year-old Magda Haroun.

In December 2014, an Egyptian court banned the controversial annual religious festival of 19th century Jewish Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira, known commonly in Egypt as “Abu Hasira,” set on 9-10 January, over “moral concerns.”

The annual Jewish celebration has often caused civil unrest near his shrine in a Nile Delta village, spurred by locals who refuse to normalise relations with Israel. This is not the first time a court bans the festival.

Lauder was US deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO affairs from 1983 to 1986. He served as head of the Jewish National Fund for 10 years starting 1997. He then became chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations in 1999 for two years.

Besides presiding over the WJC, Lauder is also currently a member of a number of global Jewish groups.

According to the presidential statement, El-Sisi is also set to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and Middle East Quartet Special Envoy Tony Blair on Sunday.

Egyptian policeman killed in drive-by

Cairo – Gunmen killed an Egyptian policeman and wounded another in a drive-by shooting in the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday, security and medical officials said.

The attack occurred near a police post in the town of El-Arish, scene of frequent attacks by Islamist militants on security forces, as the two policemen made their way to work.

Egypt’s military has been battling an insurgency on the peninsula since it overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year and cracked down on his supporters.

The government declared a state of emergency in parts of North Sinai after a suicide attack on 24 October near El-Arish killed 30 soldiers in the deadliest assault on security forces since Morsi’s ouster.

Militant groups claim their attacks are in retaliation for a government crackdown targeting Morsi’s supporters that has left hundreds dead and thousands jailed.

11 Egyptian fishermen drown as boat sinks

El-Arish – Egyptian security and hospital officials say 11 fishermen have drowned and 11 were injured after their boat collided with another passing ship near the country’s southern Sinai.

The officials said there were 45 fishermen on the boat and 23 of them are still missing after Sunday’s collision in the Gulf of Suez.

Egyptian naval forces and other security and medical teams hurried to the shores of the town of Al-Tur, the capital of southern Sinai, to aid the fishermen.

Officials say three boats in the area were helping to search for those missing.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief journalists.

Oil worker killed in Egypt

Cairo – An Egyptian militant organisation allied with the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the killing of an American oil worker.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which now refers to itself as the Sinai Province, said on its official Twitter account late on Sunday that it killed William Henderson. It published pictures of his passport and two identification cards. It did not say when or how it killed him.

The passport said he was a 58-year-old from Texas and his identification cards said he worked for Texas-based energy company Apache Corporation and Qarun Petroleum Company, a joint venture with Egypt.

Apache said in August that one of its supervisors had been killed in an apparent hijacking in Egypt’s Western Desert. The company did not identify the man.

The Enid News & Eagle in northwestern Oklahoma published an obituary for a man named William Henderson in August, saying he had “passed suddenly” while working in Egypt. It said he had worked for Apache for 28 years and was 58 when he died.

The US embassy declined to comment on the militant group’s claim, and Apache could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based jihadi group, has carried out scores of attacks mainly targeting Egyptian security forces, particularly since the July 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi. Last month it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, which controls vast swathes of Syria and Iraq.

In a separate statement late on Sunday, the Egyptian group claimed to have carried out more than 10 attacks in the past four weeks. It said it blew up six army and police armoured vehicles, killed seven police officers and conscripts, and demolished the house of a man accused of being a spy for the army.

The northern part of the Sinai Peninsula has been under a state of emergency since the group attacked an army checkpoint in October, killing 31 soldiers.

Lawyer: Mubarak could get early release

Cairo – Egypt’s jailed ex-president Hosni Mubarak could be released early after having served two-thirds of a corruption sentence and seeing murder charges dropped, his lawyer said on Sunday.

An Egyptian court on Saturday dismissed the murder charge against Mubarak over the deaths of protesters during the country’s 2011 uprising.

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for three decades until being driven from office, was also acquitted of a corruption charge but was expected to stay in jail on a three-year sentence in a separate graft case.

But his lawyer, Farid al-Deeb, told GNR that 86-year-old Mubarak could benefit from early release from the military hospital where he is being held.

Mubarak “has already served two-thirds of his sentence” when time held in preliminary detention since his 2011 arrest is taken into account, Deeb said.

“Under a recent legal amendment, there can be a release once two-thirds of a sentence has been served,” he said.

Saturday’s ruling dropping the murder charge enraged Mubarak’s opponents, with about 1 000 people taking to a central Cairo square to denounce the government.

Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters and scattered clashes erupted, leaving two people dead and 14 wounded, according to a new toll provided by the health ministry.

At least 85 people were arrested but all except four were released, human rights lawyer Ramy Ghanem told GNR.

The interior ministry confirmed in a statement the detention of four people over links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood of ousted president Mohammed Morsi.

The Islamist leader was overthrown by the military last year and the Muslim Brotherhood was blacklisted as a terrorist group, making membership of the movement punishable by a prison sentence.

Morsi’s ouster led to a deadly crackdown on his supporters that has killed hundreds, while thousands have been arrested and jailed.

Secular and leftwing activists have not been spared, with dozens jailed for violating a contentious law limiting the right to protest.

Egypt closes schools in Sinai towns after violence

Ismailia – Egypt has indefinitely shut schools in two border towns in northern Sinai as the army prepares to intensify a battle with Islamist militants that turned the daily trip to lessons into a “journey of death”.

Local people say children’s education has fallen victim while the military stages air strikes against jihadists, who are targeting soldiers and police, and have started beheading army informers.

“We are putting our lives at risk on a daily basis”, said Mohamed, a teacher who lives in the town of Sheikh Zuweid. “Sometimes there is fire between gunmen and the armed forces and sometimes stray bullets hit some of us.”

Militancy has surged in the Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel, Gaza and the Suez Canal, since the army ousted an elected Islamist president last summer.

At least 33 security personnel were killed last month and one Sinai-based group has pledged its loyalty to Islamic State, which has overrun large areas of Syria and Iraq.

Army checkpoints dot the main roads in northern Sinai which residents fear is turning into an all-out war zone. This made the daily school run arduous, and dangerous if militants targeted the troops manning them.

“We’ve started calling the trip to and from school the journey of death”, said another teacher, declining to be named.

Since the militant attacks on 24 October, Egypt has imposed emergency rule in parts of Sinai, evicted hundreds of families and demolished their homes to create a buffer zone along the Gaza border about 350km northeast of Cairo.

The government hopes that by clearing the 1km-deep area of residents, buildings and trees, it can stem the flow of arms via tunnels from Gaza to the Sinai-based jihadists.

“The buffer zone is a principal part of the solution”, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in an interview with France 24 television on Thursday. “This should have been done years ago. There was an understanding with the residents about the need for Egypt’s security.”

Not everyone agrees with him, and the heavy-handed approach is breeding resentment among local residents who have long complained of neglect by Cairo.

Near standstill

A night time curfew has brought life to a near standstill while extended internet and phone disruptions aimed at breaking the militant’s communications also cause problems. Local people say they cannot even call an ambulance to pick up casualties or inform police if they spot militants nearby.

Ten civilians were killed in their home this week during clashes between the army and militants. Security sources said insurgent mortars hit the house but had earlier raised the possibility of an army air strike gone wrong.

Egyptian officials say extraordinary measures such as the school shutdown are necessary for both national security and residents’ safety.

Schools in Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, both on the border with Gaza, would remain closed while the army secured the surrounding areas, North Sinai governor, general Abdel Fattah Harhour, told state news agency MENA on Thursday.

An army spokesman declined to comment on the military’s plans or whether they were related to the school closures. However, security sources said the army was planning major operations in the coming days and did not want children caught in the crossfire.

Ghost town and garrison

With neighbouring Libya in chaos and ISIS trying to establish a cross border “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, Egypt is determined to regain full control of Sinai. But its battle is growing more complicated.

Last week, five navy seamen were wounded and eight declared missing after what the army called a “terrorist incident” at sea. This was about 50km from Port Said, the Mediterranean entrance to the Suez Canal which is a major international shipping route and revenue earner for Egypt.

A bomb in a Cairo suburb wounded six people around a police checkpoint on Thursday, security sources said. This was the latest in a string of attacks in the capital whose targets included the supreme court, foreign ministry and Cairo University.

Militants from Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Egypt’s most active jihadist group, have claimed responsibility for beheading a number of Egyptians in recent months they accused of being informants for Israeli intelligence.

The group now may be able to boost its funding, recruiting and fighting abilities by vowing loyalty to Islamic State.

Ansar released a slickly-produced video resembling those of Islamic State, appearing to claim responsibility for the 24 October suicide attacks that provoked the Sinai crackdown. This has left rubble where some homes in Rafah once stood.

“Rafah has become a ghost town by night and military garrison by day”, said Salem al-Araishi, a resident. “All our memories are gone with our houses.”

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Pardon for Jazeera journos being discussed – Sisi

Cairo – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi suggested on Thursday he was considering pardoning journalists of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television station jailed in his country for nearly a year on charges of aiding a “terrorist organisation”.

Human rights groups and Western governments have condemned the trial of the journalists and the United Nations questioned Egypt’s judicial independence. The affair has contributed to tensions between Egypt and Qatar.

The three Al Jazeera journalists were sentenced in June to between seven and 10 years in jail on charges including spreading lies to help a “terrorist organisation”, an allusion to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

“Let us say that this matter is being discussed to solve the issue,” Sisi said in an interview with France 24 when asked if he could pardon the journalists.

National security

Asked if a decision might be made soon, he said: “If we find this appropriate for the national security of Egypt, we will do it.”

The family of one of the journalists, Australian Peter Greste, on Friday greeted the news cautiously.

“We’re always pleased and we’re always hopeful this kind of turn of events would take place, however we have had rumours either explicit or implied of this kind before,” Greste’s father, Juris Greste, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“We have built up hope but in fact it hasn’t led anywhere.”

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop welcomed the possibility of an early release and said she would take up the issue with Egypt’s representative at the United Nations.

Tensions

Relations between Egypt and Qatar have been strained since mid-2013 when then-army chief Sisi ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi and cracked down hard on his Muslim Brotherhood, arresting thousands of supporters.

But tensions have showed signs of easing recently. Qatar expelled prominent Brotherhood leaders in September and Egypt on Wednesday welcomed an agreement to end a dispute amongst Gulf Arab states over Qatar’s support for the Islamist group.

Sisi has previously refused to intervene in the case, suggesting that doing so would undermine judicial independence. But he said in July he wished the journalists had been deported and not tried, a view he reaffirmed on Thursday.

Sisi could utilise a decree he issued last week allowing him to repatriate foreign prisoners and raising the prospect that Greste and possibly Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy could be deported to face trial or complete their sentences at home.

The third Al Jazeera journalist behind bars, Baher Mohamed, is Egyptian, so would not be expected to benefit.

Al Jazeera has called the accusations against its three journalists absurd. “The Egyptian authorities have it in their power to release our journalists. World opinion expects this to happen speedily, and for all three to be freed,” a spokesman for the network said in an emailed statement.

DISCLAIMER: Gaza-Tshisa News Room [G.N.R] Encourages Freedom Of Speech And The Expression Of Diverse Views.

Egypt arrests Brotherhood leader as crackdown intensifies

Cairo – Egyptian police on Thursday arrested Mohamed Ali Bishr, one of the few Muslim Brotherhood leaders to escape jail after last year’s overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, in the latest sign of a crackdown on political dissent.

Bishr, a veteran politician who served as a cabinet minister under Morsi, was accused of calling for mass protests on 28 November, state media said.

Since the army toppled Morsi in July 2013, Egypt has banned the Brotherhood, its oldest Islamist movement, labelled it a terrorist organisation and rounded up thousands of its members.

With much of the leadership, including Morsi, in jail, Bishr had played a key role in keeping the group’s activities alive underground. He was also involved in a pressure group that had pushed for Morsi’s reinstatement and was banned last month.

Attacks against opponents

The group, the National Coalition to Support Legitimacy and Reject the Coup, condemned Bishr’s arrest, which came a day after 25 protesters were detained in downtown Cairo.

“We reject the continuation of rabid attacks against components of the coalition and its members… and against the sons and daughters of the student protest movement,” the group said on its Facebook page.

The outlawed Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Brotherhood, condemned the arrest and said Bishr had served seven years in jail from 1999-2002 and from 2006-2010.

Once among Egypt’s best-organised and most successful political movements, the Brotherhood won the first parliamentary and presidential elections after the 2011 Tahrir Square revolution that toppled veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Morsi ruled for a year, but angered many Egyptians by giving himself sweeping powers and mismanaging the economy, prompting mass protests against his rule.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief behind Morsi’s removal, went on to win a presidential election in May and vowed that the Brotherhood would cease to exist under his rule. The organisation says it is a peaceful movement.

DISCLAIMER: Gaza-Tshisa News Room [G.N.R] Encourages Freedom Of Speech And The Expression Of Diverse Views.

Egypt arrests Brotherhood leader as crackdown intensifies

Cairo – Egyptian police on Thursday arrested Mohamed Ali Bishr, one of the few Muslim Brotherhood leaders to escape jail after last year’s overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, in the latest sign of a crackdown on political dissent.

Bishr, a veteran politician who served as a cabinet minister under Morsi, was accused of calling for mass protests on 28 November, state media said.

Since the army toppled Morsi in July 2013, Egypt has banned the Brotherhood, its oldest Islamist movement, labelled it a terrorist organisation and rounded up thousands of its members.

With much of the leadership, including Morsi, in jail, Bishr had played a key role in keeping the group’s activities alive underground. He was also involved in a pressure group that had pushed for Morsi’s reinstatement and was banned last month.

Attacks against opponents

The group, the National Coalition to Support Legitimacy and Reject the Coup, condemned Bishr’s arrest, which came a day after 25 protesters were detained in downtown Cairo.

“We reject the continuation of rabid attacks against components of the coalition and its members… and against the sons and daughters of the student protest movement,” the group said on its Facebook page.

The outlawed Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Brotherhood, condemned the arrest and said Bishr had served seven years in jail from 1999-2002 and from 2006-2010.

Once among Egypt’s best-organised and most successful political movements, the Brotherhood won the first parliamentary and presidential elections after the 2011 Tahrir Square revolution that toppled veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Morsi ruled for a year, but angered many Egyptians by giving himself sweeping powers and mismanaging the economy, prompting mass protests against his rule.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief behind Morsi’s removal, went on to win a presidential election in May and vowed that the Brotherhood would cease to exist under his rule. The organisation says it is a peaceful movement.

DISCLAIMER: Gaza-Tshisa News Room [G.N.R] Encourages Freedom Of Speech And The Expression Of Diverse Views.

5 police wounded in Cairo blast

Cairo – A bomb wounded five policemen near a Cairo university on Thursday, and four people were hurt in a panicked crush after an explosion at a train station in the Egyptian capital, security officials said.

Egypt has been hit by a wave of bombings and shootings since the military ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

The five policemen, including two officers, were hurt when a bomb exploded at a small post near Helwan University in southern Cairo, security officials said.

But the interior ministry said assailants in a speeding car threw a bomb at the policemen near the university, wounding four officers and a conscript.

Egypt is fighting an Islamist insurgency that has killed scores of policemen and soldiers, mostly in the Sinai Peninsula.

But militant groups have also staged attacks in other parts of the country, including Cairo.

They say they are acting in retaliation to a brutal government crackdown targeting Morsi’s supporters that has left at least 1 400 people dead since his ousting.

A militant group called Ajnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt) has claimed several attacks in Cairo that targeted security forces, including one near Cairo University last month that wounded nine people.

Police have tightened security in and around universities across Egypt, where students supporting Morsi still stage regular protests.

During the past academic year, at least 14 students were killed in clashes with security forces on university campuses – the last bastions of pro-Morsi protesters.

Attacks on public transport

Meanwhile on Thursday, four people were injured in a stampede at the capital’s Ramses station after a blast inside a compartment of a train that pulled in from the Nile Delta, security officials said, adding that the blast was caused by a “sound bomb.”

Amid a growing number of attacks on public transport, 16 people were injured in panic sparked by an explosion at a Cairo metro train station on 13 November.

A week earlier, a bomb on a train north of the capital killed two policemen and two passengers.

In other developments, in the delta province of Sharqiya, three empty state transport buses were set on fire in separate incidents by unknown people, the officials said.

DISCLAIMER: Gaza-Tshisa News Room [G.N.R] Encourages Freedom Of Speech And The Expression Of Diverse Views.

Sinai caught in the middle of Egypt’s ‘war on terror’

El-Arish – With soldiers firing warning shots to herald the nightly curfew and jihadist militants beheading informants, Sinai’s residents find themselves caught in the middle of Egypt’s “war on terror”.

The Sinai Peninsula has become a hotbed of Islamist militancy after decades of neglect under former president Hosni Mubarak, and amid a security vacuum triggered by the army’s ouster last year of his successor Mohamed Morsi.

Militant attacks remain commonplace almost two years since the military launched its “war on terrorism” in northern Sinai bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

A brazen suicide bombing on 24 October killed 30 soldiers near the North Sinai capital El-Arish, sparking a state of emergency and a curfew being slapped on several areas of the province.

The attack was claimed by Egypt’s deadliest jihadist organisation Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem), which has since pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group that has captured swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.

Extra security including an overnight curfew, increased police and army patrols and additional checkpoints have left El-Arish’s nearly 170 000 residents angry and questioning Cairo’s counter-terrorism strategy.

‘Controlled’ blast wounds 10

“Why did the security forces take all this time? Why did they did not defuse the bomb or move it away before detonating it?” asked Wael, inspecting a large crater caused by police detonating a car bomb in a busy district last week.

Residents told GNR security forces took four hours to respond after locals alerted them about a suspicious vehicle.

Police then set off a “controlled” blast of the booby-trapped car, wounding 10 people and damaging several houses.

“If they can’t protect us, why did they come? They should leave and let the people deal with the terrorists themselves,” Wael said.

Police stations and other security installations in El-Arish are heavily guarded, with barbed wire and sandbags blocking access roads, our correspondent saw.

At one police station on the city’s outskirts, a sign proclaims: “Do not approach or we will open fire.”

A 17:00 to 07:00 am curfew has had a major impact on daily life.

As the clock approaches 17:00, El-Arish residents rush to their homes as soldiers fire warning shots.

Mobile phone networks and Internet services are cut for most of the day, affecting business, and there is also an acute fuel shortage, with regular queues up to 4km long.

El-Arish residents are clearly unhappy.

‘Why not surgical strikes?’

“I’m not sure how the army operates, but I doubt it has enough intelligence information,” said one merchant who lived under the Israeli occupation of the city between 1967 and 1979.

“The Israelis used surgical strikes to eliminate their targets without touching those sitting next to them. Why does the Egyptian army not use similar tactics?” he asked, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Despite the heightened security presence, residents are clearly afraid to cooperate with the army after several men were killed for being informants, the businessman said, referring to gruesome video footage of beheadings released by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis.

The group has killed scores of security personnel since Morsi’s July 2013 ouster in retaliation for a bloody government crackdown on his Islamist supporters which has killed at least 1 400 people.

But it is not only the residents of El-Arish who are living in fear.

The city’s security chiefs have restricted their movements and “set up beds in their offices”, indicated one local official, again speaking on condition of anonymity.

Near the main highway, the scene of several militant attacks, hundreds of hectares of olive groves have been razed.

“The army is convinced that jihadists hole up in these plantations,” said a farmer who declined to give his name for fear of reprisal.

“My heart breaks when I see this, but when I see television pictures of people dying, I think anything’s fine as long as my family and I are safe.”

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Egypt, UAE embassies in Libya car bombed

Tripoli – Car bombs went off outside the Egyptian and United Arab Emirates embassies in the Libyan capital on Thursday, causing some damage to the long-shuttered buildings but no casualties, officials said.

The near-simultaneous explosions rocked the upmarket neighbourhood housing foreign missions, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.

Both embassies, along with most diplomatic missions and international organizations, have been closed for months as Islamist-allied militias have battled forces loyal to the internationally-recognized government. The Islamist-allied militias now hold Tripoli and the country’s second-largest city Benghazi.

Egypt condemned the attack, saying it harmed the “historic blood ties” between the two nations. “Terrorist groups are using violence to reach political goals,” Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The blasts occurred a day after three car bombs, including one driven by a suicide attacker, struck in the eastern Libyan cities of Tobruk and Bayda, where the elected parliament and government are currently based. Six people were killed and 21 wounded in those bombings.

Libya is currently mired in the worst fighting since dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in a 2011 uprising against his four-decade rule. The militia fighting has killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands.

The Islamist-allied militias accuse the UAE and Egypt of backing their non-Islamist rivals. Egypt has said it is allied with the Libyan government in a war on terrorism.

Tripoli parliament

The militias’ capture of Tripoli forced the elected parliament, dominated by non-Islamist lawmakers, and the government it approved, to move to Tobruk and Bayda, which had remained mostly quiet until the attacks Wednesday. Islamist lawmakers in Tripoli have revived an earlier parliament and government.

A disputed court ruling has meanwhile invalidated the June elections that brought about the internationally recognized government.

The Tobruk-based parliament has expressed support for a UN appeal for a cease-fire, saying in a statement on Wednesday that “the political solution is the only way” out of the current crisis.

In the western city of Zuwara, meanwhile, an Italian hostage identified as Marco Vallisa was released on Wednesday, according to the Zuwara Media Centre, which is affiliated to the city council. Vallisa was abducted on 5 July along with two other European construction workers who were later released.

It’s not clear who abducted the three, but Zuwara is close to a suspected training camp for Islamic extremists and a hub for smuggling migrants from Africa to Europe.

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Sinai militants kill 5 as Egypt probes sea attack

Cairo – Militants shot dead five Egyptian conscripts in the Sinai Peninsula on Thursday, as the army searched for eight servicemen missing after an attack on a navy boat in the Mediterranean.

The military carried out air strikes in Sinai, killing three members of the Islamist militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, security officials said.

Egypt has been hit by a wave of attacks since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last year, infuriating his supporters.

In Cairo, 16 people were injured on Thursday in a panicked crush on a Cairo metro train after a small bomb exploded during rush hour.

The attacks in Sinai, in which two police conscripts and three soldiers were taken out of their vehicles and shot dead, bore the hallmarks of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which often sets up impromptu checkpoints in the lawless peninsula.

The ambushes came a day after an unprecedented assault on a navy boat wounded five servicemen and left eight lost at sea.

The military, which said late Wednesday it was still conducting search and rescue operations for those missing, has called the incident a “terrorist” attack.

But a day later the identities and goals of the assailants remained unknown.

A security official said that dozens of suspects rounded up at sea after the assault was still being interrogated.

It was not immediately clear whether they were “terrorists” or drug and weapons smugglers who frequent that part of the sea, he said.

Four boats used by the assailants were destroyed, according to the military.

Former French admiral Alain Coldefy told GNR that the attackers could have been militants or illegal migrant traffickers.

“It is too early to know the source of such an attack”, said Coldefy, who is now research director with the Institut de Relations Internationales et Strategiques think-tank in Paris.

“It could be terrorists, or it could have been powerful human traffickers who don’t want to be bothered in their affairs.”

A militant attack would have taken much preparation but would not have been difficult to carry out given the size of the navy boat, he said.

Militants intercept conscripts

The Egyptian government is fighting an Islamist militant insurgency that has killed scores of policemen and soldiers, but such a maritime attack has not been seen before.

The incident came days after Ansar Beit al-Maqdis pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Egypt’s army has launched an unprecedented crackdown in Sinai to quell the militants, razing homes along the border with Gaza to create a buffer zone with the Islamist-controlled Palestinian enclave.

One of the attacks Thursday took place at the entrance of the town of Rafah along the border with Gaza, where the army is demolishing homes to create the buffer zone.

The other occurred several kilometres to the west, in the north Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has spearheaded an insurgency in the peninsula that has killed scores of policemen and soldiers since the army overthrew Morsi.

It is believed to have been behind an attack on a military checkpoint last month that killed at least 30 soldiers, the deadliest such incident in years.

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Egypt blows up houses for Sinai buffer zone

Egypt has started work on a controversial buffer zone by destroying homes along its border with the Gaza Strip, following some of the worst attacks on the army since President Mohamed Morsi was ousted last year.

Bulldozers began destroying several abandoned houses along the frontier on Wednesday, just days after armed men attacked an army post killing 31 soldiers in the area.

Egypt has declared a state of emergency in the Sinai Peninsula and indefinitely closed the Rafah crossing, the only non-Israeli passage for Gazans. 

It also accelerated plans to create the 500-metre deep buffer zone, and told the area’s 10,000 residents they had 48 hours to pack up and leave before they would destroy around 800 homes. 

The buffer zone will extend along the 10km border with Gaza, with water-filled trenches to thwart tunnel diggers.

Authorities say the border area is used by criminal gangs to smuggle arms from Gaza to Sinai, and have promised to compensate affected families with the monetary value of their properties and rent money for up to three months

Residents of Sinai, which has long been neglected by the state, say they rely on the tunnels for their livelihoods. But Egyptian security forces see them as a security threat and regularly destroy them.

Violence escalating

The Egyptian army has waged a broad offensive in northern Sinai against armed groups who have emboldened their presence in several areas in the neglected eastern region over the past three years, destroying much of the web-like network of smuggling tunnels that connect the area with Gaza.

Egyptian media has accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers of meddling in Egypt’s affairs, with some suggesting the group is supporting fighters inside Egypt since the military overthrew Morsi last year.

Hamas officials denied any interference and criticised Egypt for imposing stricter border crossing rules.

Since Morsi’s toppling, attacks against security forces in northern Sinai have escalated, something Egyptian authorities blame on Morsi and his allies.

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group, which has been branded a terrorist organisation, denied links to violence.

Another al-Qaeda-inspired group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks. No one claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack on the army post.

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Egypt jails 25 on terrorism charges

Cairo – An Egyptian court jailed 25 men on Wednesday for from seven years to life for planning “terrorist attacks” on state institutions during the presidency of Islamist Mohammed Morsi.

The accused, members of the so-called “Nasr City Cell,” were arrested in 2012 after an exchange of fire in Cairo’s upmarket district of Nasr City.

Mohamed Jamal, one of those sentenced to life, is listed as a “terrorist individual” by the United Nations and the US State Department for his alleged links to Al-Qaeda.

The United Nations says Jamal is the leader of the Nasr City Cell.

The State Department says he travelled to Afghanistan in the late 1980s, where he trained with Al-Qaeda and learned how to construct bombs.

The Cairo court handed down 12 life sentences, including three to people tried in absentia. A life sentence in Egypt amounts to 25 years.

Four others were sentenced to 15 years, six to 10 years and three to seven years.

One defendant was acquitted.

The court found the accused guilty of planning “terrorist attacks” against state institutions, founding an illegal group that aimed to disturb public peace and security, and possessing arms and explosives.

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Egypt bans anti-Mubarak activist from leaving

Cairo – Egypt’s authorities banned a prominent activist of the 2011 uprising, Asma Mahfouz, from leaving the country late on Tuesday while on her way to Bangkok, a Cairo airport official said.

Mahfouz, a well known youth leader, was a leading figure of the uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak in early 2011.

She was stopped at Cairo airport by immigration officials following a request from the prosecutor general’s office, an airport official said, adding that her name was on a list of people barred from leaving the country.

After briefly detaining her, she was told to go back home, the official said.

Mahfouz was attempting to travel to Bangkok with her sister and sister’s husband.

Since the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last year, the authorities have cracked down on opposition, including pro-Morsi Islamists and secular activists.

Several secular activists have been detained, jailed or barred from leaving the country, while the crackdown on Morsi’s supporters has left at least 1 400 people dead, and over 15 000 arrested.

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Egypt military court sentences 7 to death

An official in Egypt says a military court has sentenced seven alleged militants to death and two to life in prison for their roles in a pair of attacks that killed nine soldiers.

The military official said the court issued its final decision on Tuesday. Human rights groups criticise military trials for hasty procedures, harsh sentences, and limited transparency. The verdicts can be appealed.

Six of the defendants were arrested in March following a raid on their hideout on the outskirts of Cairo, during which two officers were killed.

The defendants, allegedly members of the al-Qaeda-inspired militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, are accused of plotting two attacks against a military bus and a military checkpoint, killing seven soldiers. One of the defendants was tried in absentia.

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Egypt: No plan for action against ISIS in Iraq, Syria

Egypt has no plans to provide the United States with direct military assistance in its war against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria even though American aerial bombardment may not be enough to defeat the group, the country’s prime minister said.

But Ibrahim Mehleb left open the possibility of military action if Cairo’s Gulf Arab allies are threatened by the al Qaeda offshoot.

With one of the biggest armies in the Middle East and wide experience in battling militancy, Egypt is regarded as a vital ally for the United States, which provides billions of dollars in annual aid to Cairo.

Mehleb said Egypt’s priority is ensuring stability at home, where security officials face resilient jihadist insurgents based in the Sinai Peninsula and regard militants in neighbouring Libya as a serious threat.

“For the Egyptian army the most important thing is its borders and the stability of its country and the protection of its country,” Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb told Reuters in an interview.

He spoke hours after a bomb killed six Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai.

The peninsula is the epicentre of an insurgency that has killed hundreds of Egyptian security forces since the army toppled president Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood last year after mass protests against his rule.

But Mehleb appeared more flexible on the issue of Egyptian intervention when it comes to the security of oil-producing Gulf Arab allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Those countries have pumped billions of dollars in aid and petroleum products into Egypt since then army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Morsi in July 2013 and then mounted one of the toughest crackdowns on Islamists.

They regard the Brotherhood as an existential threat to their monarchies and have formed an axis with Egypt against countries like Qatar, which backs the group.

Gulf security

Mehleb stressed that Egypt never wants to interfere in the affairs of other states. But he went on to say:

“The security of the Gulf is the security of Egypt and Egypt’s security is the Gulf’s security.”

Asked if the most populous Arab country would be willing to step in if Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates tell Cairo that Islamic State has emerged as a threat to their security, Mehleb said: “We will cross that bridge when we get there.”

The United States is seeking more help in its fights against Islamic State, which has seized parts of Iraq and Syria and has threatened to redraw the map of the Middle East.

US Secretary of State John Kerry Kerry made several visits to Egypt in recent months, hoping it would weigh in.

Asked to assess whether the United States would have to escalate beyond airstrikes to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Mehleb was cautious.

He noted that it was vital to improve the performance of Iraq’s army, which virtually collapsed when Islamic State swept through northern Iraq in June.

Iraqi army must be strong

“Let’s wait. The aerial intervention and the presence of the Iraqi army on the ground without doubt will have an impact, a positive impact in containing terrorism. The situation is difficult,” said Mehleb.

“The aerial intervention of the United States is a very important intervention at this stage. But is it enough? With the strengthening of the Iraqi army and the presence of the Iraqi army on the ground. We must evaluate step by step. It is still too early to judge what will happen in the field.”

Mehleb was especially concerned by Islamic State fighters with Western passports who can evade detection at airports.

“Today there are people from the Islamic State from Europe. This is the biggest challenge today. When we said terrorism must be fought on a global level, many now understand this message.”

Sisi, now Egypt’s elected president, has warned that Islamic militants are a global threat. He has been especially worried about militants thriving in the chaos of post-Gaddafi Libya.

Security officials say those Islamists have made contact with Sinai militants belonging to the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group. An Ansar commander told Reuters the group has been coached by Islamic State.

Egypt is training anti-Islamist Libyan forces on its soil and sharing intelligence in a bid to stamp out militancy next door.

Security officials say Libyan pilots in Egyptian warplanes recently bombed militant targets in Libya, though officials in Cairo also say non-intervention is the guiding policy.

“We favour non-interference in Libya’s internal affairs. But we support both peoples and we also protect our border with Libya which is more than 1 000km,” said Mehleb.

“This gives Egyptian officials and the Egyptian army one goal – protection of the Egyptian border.”

Perhaps signs that Islamic State members have themselves infiltrated Egypt are more worrying. Security officials told Reuters 13 members of the group – Egyptians, Iraqis and Syrians – were arrested in Egypt in recent weeks.

Borders of terrorism

“Maybe some infiltrated Egypt but we are protecting our borders and Egypt’s laws strongly confront these terrorist movements. Security forces are present,” said Mehleb.

“There may be infiltration but that has had no impact on Egypt’s security. Egypt’s security is stable. Compare this day to a year ago. Egypt is stabilising and terrorism is receding.”

Bombings have eased. But regional violence has complicated life for authorities in Egypt, which has battled Islamists for decades and produced some of the most notorious ones, including al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, a former physician.

“The borders of terrorism are the whole world. When we confront terrorism in our country we must follow what happens in the entire region,” said Mehleb.

“We follow what happens in Libya, what happens in Syria, what happens in Yemen, what happens in Iraq.”

Mehleb placed the Muslim Brotherhood in the same category as Ansar and other groups which have carried out bombings against security personnel and Egyptian officials, an allegation it strongly denies.

Egyptian security forces killed about 1 000 Brotherhood supporters and arrested thousands of others after Mursi’s fall, drawing condemnation from human rights groups and severely straining Cairo’s ties with Turkey and Qatar, which back the group.

Asked if Cairo perceived those countries as a security threat, Mehleb said: “Anyone who works against Egypt will lose.”

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Egyptian workers riot in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh – The official Saudi Press Agency says five Saudi civilians have been injured when a group of Egyptians rioted in the northwestern Red Sea city of Duba in a rare protest by foreign workers in the kingdom.

The workers threw rocks, burnt tires and closed a major road to protest their employers’ negligence. The protesters say they should have been provided transportation back to Egypt by now.

The men are among 1 700 seasonal butchers who stay in Saudi Arabia during the month of hajj. They are typically paid about $400.

Employers often promise to pay for the round-trip transportation to Saudi Arabia from Egypt, giving the workers a rare chance to also perform the Muslim pilgrimage while there.

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Egyptian workers riot in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh – The official Saudi Press Agency says five Saudi civilians have been injured when a group of Egyptians rioted in the northwestern Red Sea city of Duba in a rare protest by foreign workers in the kingdom.

The workers threw rocks, burnt tires and closed a major road to protest their employers’ negligence. The protesters say they should have been provided transportation back to Egypt by now.

The men are among 1 700 seasonal butchers who stay in Saudi Arabia during the month of hajj. They are typically paid about $400.

Employers often promise to pay for the round-trip transportation to Saudi Arabia from Egypt, giving the workers a rare chance to also perform the Muslim pilgrimage while there.

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Three minibuses collide in Egypt

A senior Egyptian security official says 30 people were killed and 15 injured when three minibuses collided on a road in the southern province of Aswan.

Aswan’s provincial police chief, Mohammed Mustafa, said the accident took place on Monday on a road that runs along the west bank of the Nile near the historic town of Edfu.

The minibuses, widely used in Egypt as communal taxis, were speeding.

Deadly road accidents claim thousands of lives in Egypt every year.

They are mostly caused by speeding, bad roads or lack of regular vehicle maintenance.

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Egypt police in 2 universities to quell protests

Cairo – Security officials say police backed by armoured vehicles have stormed the campuses of at least two prominent Egyptian universities to quell anti-government protests by students.

Sunday’s largest rallies took place at Cairo and the Islamist al-Azhar universities. They were organised by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Student protest spokesperson Youssef Salhen said protesters clashed briefly with police outside al-Azhar.

A security official said at least six people were arrested at al-Azhar, where police fired tear gas. He spoke anonymously because he wasn’t authorised to speak to the media.

Authorities have intensified security at universities nationwide to prevent the resurgence of student protests. Last year, at least 16 students were killed.

Morsi’s supporters continue to hold small, scattered protests despite a crackdown after he was ousted in July 2013.

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Egyptian officials visit new Ethiopian dam

Addis Ababa – The Ethiopian News Agency says Egypt’s irrigation minister has toured the site in western Ethiopia where the country is building a new dam on the Blue Nile River.

The Ethiopian agency said on Monday that Hossam El-Moughazi’s visit Sunday marked the first time that an Egyptian official has been able to visit the site of the $4.2bn hydro-electric project named the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia are currently holding talks aimed at reducing tension over the dam. Ethiopian officials have previously said they have arrested Egyptian citizens who allegedly entered the country illegally and tried to reach the site of the dam.

Egypt reportedly fears that the dam will diminish its share of the Nile, which provides almost all of the desert nation’s water needs.

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Egypt ‘gay marriage’ video detainees to face trial

Cairo – Eight men arrested in Egypt for appearing in a “gay marriage” video that went viral on the Internet have been referred to trial for inciting debauchery, judicial sources said Monday.

Homosexuality is not included in a list of sexual offences explicitly outlawed by Egyptian law, but it can be punished under several different statutes on morality.

Seven of the nine men identified from the video were arrested on 6 September. They tested negative after they were put through medical exams to detect whether they were homosexuals.

The eighth suspect was arrested days later.

The accused will now face trial in front of a misdemeanour court on charges of inciting debauchery and offending public morality, an official from the prosecutor’s office said.

‘Testing’ for homosexuality

A total of 16 men were seen in the video, including the one who filmed the footage. Nine of them were identified by the authorities.

The footage showed a “gay marriage” ceremony aboard a Nile river boat.

The footage shows two men in the centre kissing, exchanging rings and cutting a cake with their picture on it.

Watch The Video

The video went viral on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

New York-based rights watchdog Human Rights Watch has urged Egypt to release the men and condemned the tests done on them.

Medical tests in such cases has been a longstanding practice in Egypt used by the authorities to identify homosexuals.

Egyptian homosexuals have in the past been jailed on charges ranging from “scorning religion” to “sexual practices contrary to Islam”.

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Brotherhood leader, 104 referred to trial

Cairo – Egypt’s top prosecutor has referred the leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and 104 supporters to trial on charges of murder and terrorism.

The prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Monday that the charges arise from deadly riots in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia on 5 July 2013, two days after the military overthrew Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, himself a long serving Brotherhood leader. At least three people were killed.

Seventy-five of the 105 defendants are in detention and 30 are at large, said the statement. The fugitives will be tried in absentia.

Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, Morsi and other group leaders are facing several trials on charges of murder and inciting violence. Badie has been convicted and sentenced to life in at least one case.

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Egypt military aircraft crash kills six

Cairo – An Egyptian military aircraft crashed on a training mission on Sunday after a technical failure, killing six soldiers, the army said in  a statement.

The aircraft came down about 100km south of Cairo.

“During military training, a technical failure led to the crash of an aircraft carrying troops in Kom Aushim in the Fayoum province… killing six soldiers and injuring one,” the army said.

No further details about the accident, including the type of the aircraft, were immediately available.

Army chief Sedky Sobhy ordered an investigation into the crash, the statement added.

Five soldiers were killed on 25 January when their helicopter was shot down by militants in the Sinai Peninsula where troops are battling an Islamist insurgency.

Militants have carried out deadly attacks against security forces in the peninsula and in cities including Cairo since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July last year.

Two policemen were killed and six people were injured on Sunday when a bomb exploded near a checkpoint outside the foreign ministry headquarters in the capital.

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Egypt militants claim blast near foreign ministry

Cairo – An Egyptian militant group claimed responsibility for Sunday’s bomb blast in a busy downtown Cairo street near the Foreign Ministry that killed two senior police officers and wounded several other policemen.

Ajnad Misr, or Soldiers of Egypt, which has claimed previous attacks on police, said in a statement posted late Sunday on its Twitter account and on a militant website that it had used an explosive device on “officers of the criminal apparatus” as part of its campaign against security forces.

It said a group of its members carried out “a new penetration operation to reach the foreign ministry’s perimeter and plant the explosive device”. It did not say how they detonated the explosives.

It said the attacks will not stop until “the ruling tyrants fall and God’s Shariah is established, and that when a hero dies he will be replaced by several heroes who will follow his path”.

Similar attacks have intensified since the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi more than one year ago.

Ajnad Misr says its attacks were revenge for the violent government crackdown on Morsi supporters following his ouster that left hundreds killed.

In July, the group claimed responsibility for bomb blasts outside the presidential palace in Cairo that killed two senior police officers and wounded 10 other people. It said the bombs it used cannot be detected by ordinary equipment.

Following the July attack, Egypt’s chief prosecutor charged 20 suspected members of the group with carrying out terrorist attacks that killed seven people and wounded more than 100.

Six of the men are still at large.

Ajnad Misr also claimed responsibility for April’s killing of police Brigadier General Ahmed Zaki, by detonating a bomb under his car.

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Muslim Brotherhood figures leave Qatar

Cairo – Some senior figures in Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood have agreed to leave Qatar, a prominent member of the group said on Saturday, following months of pressure on the Gulf Arab state from its neighbours to stop backing the Islamist group.

“To lift the embarrassment for the state of Qatar, which we found hospitable, some of the symbols of the Muslim Brotherhood who have been asked to move their residency outside the state have agreed,” senior Brotherhood figure Amr Darrag said on his Facebook page.

Qatari officials were not immediately available for comment. Egyptian newspapers reported on Saturday that Qatar had asked seven senior members of the Brotherhood to leave the country within a week.

Darrag did not say whether he would leave Qatar, whose ties with regional states were strained after it hosted prominent members of the Brotherhood.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf Arab states see the Muslim Brotherhood as an existential threat to the monarchies.

They have showered Egypt with billions of dollars since its army toppled President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

Arab tensions

Ties between Qatar and Egypt were badly damaged after Morsi’s fall. Qatar has welcomed a number of senior Brotherhood figures since Egyptian security forces launched a crackdown on the movement, killing hundreds in the streets and arresting thousands of others.

Egypt has declared the Brotherhood a terrorist movement. The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful group.

The spokesperson for Egypt’s foreign ministry said he had “no idea” if Qatar had expelled Brotherhood leaders, and declined to comment further until Cairo had examined the issue.

The tensions between Qatar and its neighbours caused Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to withdraw their ambassadors from Doha in March.

Qatar has also been courted by the US to support US-led action against Islamic State militants who control parts of Iraq and Syria.

US Secretary of State John Kerry won backing on Thursday for a “co-ordinated military campaign” against Islamic State from 10 Arab countries – Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six Gulf states including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said some Arab states at talks in Jeddah on Thursday had proposed expanding the campaign to fight other Islamist groups besides Islamic State. That could include the Muslim Brotherhood.

Kerry arrived in Cairo on Saturday for talks with senior government officials.

Egypt would certainly welcome any moves that would further isolate the Muslim Brotherhood, many of whose leaders are on trial in Cairo and could face the death penalty.

Wagdy Ghoneim, a cleric who supports the Muslim Brotherhood, said he was leaving Qatar.

“Thanks to Allah, I have decided to move from dear Qatar, without any pressure or difficulties or problems,” he said in a video on his Facebook page.

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Kerry to visit Egypt to push anti-ISIS coalition

Cairo – US Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Cairo on Saturday as Washington seeks to build an international coalition to counter Islamic State jihadists, an Arab League official said on Thursday.

Ten Arab states agreed in Jeddah on Thursday to rally behind Washington in the fight against the group.

Kerry will meet League chief Nabil al-Arabi “to brief the secretary general on the results of the Jeddah conference”, a senior League official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Egypt’s state news agency MENA confirmed the meeting would take place, and a senior Egyptian official also speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed Kerry would visit, without divulging details about his programme.

In Jeddah on Thursday, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates agreed to “do their share” in the fight against IS.

The statement came at the conclusion of a meeting in the Saudi Red Sea resort between Kerry and his Arab counterparts.

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Egypt jails orphanage head for beating kids

Cairo – A court jailed the head of a Cairo orphanage for three years after a video emerged on the internet showing him beating children.

Ossama Mohamed Othman was arrested in August after the video allegedly showed him hitting children with a stick and kicking them as they ran away.

The court convicted Othman of assaulting seven children with a stick and endangering their lives.

The third year of his sentence will be suspended if he pays bail of $140.

Othman’s estranged wife had told state-run al-Ahram newspaper that she filmed the video.

The prosecution said some children had accused Othman of beating them for failing to seek his permission to watch television.

Mohamed Faruk, a senior Cairo security official, had said on television that during questioning Othman justified his actions by saying he had been trying to teach the children “a lesson” as they were playing with electrical devices and he feared for their lives.

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ISIS leaves signed note on beheaded corpse

Ismailia – Residents in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula said on Wednesday they found a beheaded corpse bearing a note signed by an Islamist militant group linked to the Syria and Iraq-based Islamic State, accusing the victim of being an Israeli spy.

The beheading is the eighth claimed by the group in Sinai in under a month in a surge of brutal killings seemingly inspired by Islamic State, which has been internationally condemned for its atrocities and has been the target of US air strikes.

Residents from a village south of the town of Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai told GNR by phone that the decapitated body bore a note signed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, saying he was an agent for Israeli spy agency Mossad.

“This is the fate of all who prove to be traitors to their homeland,” the group said in the note, according to the villagers.

A senior Ansar commander told GNR last week that Islamic State, an al-Qaeda offshoot that controls large swathes of Syria and Iraq, had been advising the Sinai-based group on how to operate more effectively.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the most powerful and ruthless militant group in Sinai, said last month it had beheaded four Egyptians for providing Israel with intelligence for an airstrike that killed three of its fighters.

The group posted a video on Twitter showing the beheadings which resembled images posted on the Internet by Islamic State.

Islamic State has caused international alarm over its rapid expansion and extremely violence, including the beheadings of two US journalists and the killing and burying alive of hundreds of Iraqis from the Yazidi minority.

Egyptian intelligence officials have said Islamic State is also influencing Egyptian militants based just over the border with Libya.

Dakahlia attack

Hardline Islamist militants have stepped up attacks on police and soldiers since the army toppled President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood last year after mass protests against his rule.

The government accuses the Muslim Brotherhood of turning to violence following Mursi’s ousting, but the movement has publicly condemned violent extremism in the past and says it remains committed to peaceful means of bringing down the government.

But with hundreds of Brotherhood members killed and thousands arrested in a crackdown now entering its second year, older members fear that the youth could turn to extremist groups that seem more effective than the silenced Brotherhood.

In the north eastern Dakahlia province, a security officer’s son was killed in an apparent attempt on the officer’s life, the state news agency reported on Wednesday.

Mahmoud Saad and his son were driving in the provincial capital of Mansoura when an unknown gunman opened fire on their vehicle, MENA reported.

Militant attacks initially targeted security forces in Sinai – a remote but strategic part of Egypt located between Israel, the Gaza Strip and the Suez Canal – but they have since extended their reach, with bombings and shootings on the mainland.

The violence has hurt tourism, a pillar of Egypt’s economy.

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2 Islamist protesters killed in Cairo

Cairo – Two Islamist protesters were killed on Friday during clashes between police and demonstrators in Cairo, Egyptian security sources said.

The men died from bullet wounds during clashes between a few hundred protesters and police in Giza on the outskirts of the capital, the sources said.

Violence has polarised Egyptians since the army overthrew elected Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last year following mass protests against his rule.

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, once Egypt’s most organised political movement, was declared a terrorist organisation last year, and its political wing was banned last week.

Small hit-and-run demonstrations are the most that the group can muster after a fierce security crackdown.

Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters have been killed and thousands arrested since Morsi was ousted, with the largest number of deaths occurring almost exactly one year ago on 14 August, when security forces stormed two protest camps in Cairo.

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Three dead in Egypt clashes

Cairo – At least three people were killed in Egypt on Thursday as police quashed attempts by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi to commemorate the first anniversary of a brutal Cairo crackdown.

On 14 August 2013, after then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had removed Egypt’s first freely elected president, the security forces set upon thousands of Morsi supporters at protest camps in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares, leaving hundreds of people dead.

The assault was “one of the largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history”, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report released ahead of Thursday’s anniversary.

In Rabaa al-Adawiya alone at least 817 people were killed, HRW said, calling for top officials to be investigated for likely “crimes against humanity”.

Official estimates say more than 700 people were killed at the two squares on that day.

On Thursday, attempts by Morsi supporters to demonstrate were swiftly suppressed, reflecting their dwindling ability to stage protests amid violent repression that has left more than 1 400 people dead since Morsi’s overthrow in July 2013.

The pro-Morsi Anti-Coup Alliance had called for nationwide rallies on Thursday under the slogan “We Demand Retribution”.

One person was killed in a confrontation between police and Islamist protesters in west Cairo, a security official said.

Police fired tear gas during clashes with pro-Morsi demonstrators in three neighbourhoods in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and in the town of Kerdasa, southwest of Cairo.

Similar trouble was reported in north Cairo and in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya.

At least 12 people were wounded and 19 arrested, security officials said.

Security forces were deployed around Cairo’s main squares including Tahrir, Rabaa, Nahda and Giza to thwart any attempts by pro-Morsi groups to hold rallies.

Premeditated massacre

Qatar-based cleric Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi, who was born in Egypt and is seen as a spiritual guide by supporters of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, called for the prosecution of the “leaders of the military coup” for the “premeditated massacre” of the 2013 protesters.

Qaradawi is himself wanted in Egypt and faces trial in absentia as part of the crackdown on Morsi’s supporters.

The cleric has lived in exile for decades but returned briefly to his homeland after the overthrow of long-time strongman Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring uprising of 2011.

Gas-rich Qatar has also given refuge to a number of Brotherhood leaders who fled Egypt after Morsi’s overthrow and has faced persistent criticism from the new authorities in Cairo.

Sisi deposed Morsi after millions of people took to the streets demanding the Islamist’s resignation just one year into his term of office.

They accused him of monopolising power and ruining an already dilapidated economy.

Sisi replaced Morsi as president after securing a landslide victory in May this year in an election in which he faced a single challenger and the main opposition groups called a boycott.

In a separate incident on Thursday, gunmen on a motorbike shot dead a policeman in Cairo. The motive for his killing was unclear.

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Egypt Islamists mark anniversary of mass killing

Cairo – Egyptian security forces firing tear gas have quashed small, scattered demonstrations by Islamist supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi who tried to commemorate the anniversary of the killing of hundreds of protesters.

After the military overthrew Morsi last summer amid massive demonstrations against his yearlong rule, authorities waged a sweeping crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood movement and other Islamists, with hundreds killed in street clashes and tens of thousands detained.

The deadliest such incident was exactly one year ago, when security forces dispersed two large pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo, setting off clashes and killing hundreds of demonstrators in the worst mass killing in modern Egyptian history.

Authorities have blamed the Brotherhood for a string of attacks on security forces and have branded it a terrorist organisation.

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HRW chief denied entry to Egypt

The executive director of Human Rights Watch and another senior staff member have been denied entry to Egypt after being held at Cairo’s international airport for 12 hours.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of the New York-based rights group, and HRW Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson were held overnight before being denied entry, Whitson Wrote On Twitter.

“It’s official – shortest visit to Cairo ever – 12 hours before deportation for ‘security reasons’- the new Egypt certainly ‘transitioning’,” Whitson wrote.

The rights activists had flown to Cairo for the release of a report to mark a year since the mass killing of an estimated 700 opposition protesters by security forces, in one of the deadliest incidents of its kind in decades.

“We came to Egypt to release a serious report on a serious subject that deserves serious attention from the Egyptian government,” Roth said in a Statement.

“Rab’a massacre numbers rank with Tiananmen and Andijan but Egypt gov’t wouldn’t let me in to present report on it,” he Wrote On Twitter.

Rights groups have warned of the sharp deterioration in human rights in Egypt since the overthrow of the country’s elected President Mohamed Morsi by the former army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in July 2013.

Human Rights Watch’s European media director, Andrew Stroehlein, said it was the first time authorities in Egypt had denied entry to HRW staff, including under Hosni Mubarak, the deposed prime minister.

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Egypt military kills 7 militants in volatile Sinai

Cairo – An Egyptian military spokesperson says troops have killed seven suspected militants and arrested five as part of an ongoing offensive in the volatile Sinai Peninsula where the military has been trying to quell a spreading insurgency by Islamic militants.

A statement late Monday on Brigadier General Mohammed Samir’s official Facebook page says troops killed three militants in an exchange of fire while four others died when a group tried to attack a house of in the border town of Rafah.

He says five militants were arrested and five were wounded. It’s unclear if those were the same people.

Militant attacks in Sinai and elsewhere in Egypt have escalated since the military’s ousting last July of the country’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and its subsequent crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

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Egypt’s Morsi salutes Palestinian ‘resistance’

Cario – Ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi has praised the Palestinian “resistance” over the 21-day conflict with Israel in Gaza that has killed more than 1 030 people, mostly Palestinian civilians.

The Islamist leader, overthrown last July by Egypt’s then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is on trial on charges for which he faces the death penalty.

Under Morsi’s rule, Egypt brokered a truce in 2012 between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip, after they fought a similar deadly war. Hamas is an offshoot of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group.

“Our compass is set on supporting Palestine against the usurping occupier and we are with any resistance against any occupier,” Morsi said in a message posted on his official Facebook page late on Sunday.

Militants in Gaza have sent hundreds of missiles into the Jewish state during the conflict that has so far claimed 46 lives in Israel, including 43 soldiers.

“A full salute to those who resist and to the revolutionaries,” he said in remarks marking the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr that ends the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Egypt’s new authorities have blacklisted Hamas and accused it of plotting attacks in the country.

Morsi himself and other Brotherhood leaders are accused of colluding with Hamas to sow chaos inside Egypt during the 2011 revolt that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

In his message, Morsi also hailed his supporters for “the pursuit of their revolution”.

Since Morsi’s ouster, his supporters have been staging regular protests calling for his reinstatement.

However, their rallies have sharply dwindled amid a government crackdown that has left more than 1 400 people dead and at least 15 000 detained.

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Sisi defends Egypt peace efforts for Gaza

Cairo – President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday defended Egypt’s role in trying to broker a Gaza truce between Israel and Hamas, which accuses him of proposing a ceasefire favourable to Israel.

Unlike his Islamist predecessor Mohammed Morsi whom he toppled and detained last year, ex-army chief Sisi has sought to isolate the militant Palestinian movement in the neighbouring Gaza Strip.

The Cairo government worked to contain the crisis even before it escalated into a full-blown conflict on July 8 that has killed more than 650 Palestinians and at least 31 Israelis, Sisi said.

“Egypt has sacrificed, for the Palestinian cause and the Palestinians, 100 000 martyrs,” he said in a televised address, referring to casualties in Egypt’s wars with Israel between 1948 and 1973, before Cairo signed a 1979 peace treaty.

“So it is difficult for anyone to engage in one-upmanship, not just regarding [our role] with the Palestinian brothers but also the Arab region,” he said in a speech to mark the 1952 military overthrow of the monarchy in Egypt.

Since Morsi’s overthrow in July 2013, Egypt has been at odds with Turkey and Qatar, both of which back his Muslim Brotherhood and have been critical of Sisi’s stand on the Gaza conflict.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called Sisi a “tyrant” who could not be trusted to mediate a truce, while Hamas demands a role for Ankara and Doha, which hosts its political leadership, in any truce negotiations.

Morsi mediated a truce to end an eight-day conflict with Israel in 2012 that Hamas was able to represent as a “victory”.

Sisi said his truce proposal would give Hamas its key demand of an end to the eight-year blockade of Gaza once calm is restored.

Hamas, however, insists on a comprehensive agreement before it agrees to a ceasefire.

It also demands Egypt open its Rafah border crossing with Gaza, the only passage to the coastal enclave not controlled by Israel.

Hamas argues that Egypt’s proposal, which is backed by the United States, United Nations and Arab League, would allow Israel to dictate if and when to ease its blockade on Gaza.

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Egypt road crash kills 17 – report

Cairo – At least 17 people were killed in Egypt on Tuesday when a bus ploughed into a truck south of Cairo, state television reported.

The accident occurred near the town of Safaga, 570km south of Cairo, the report said, adding that 25 other passengers were injured in the crash.

Traffic accidents are common in Egypt, where roads are often poorly maintained and traffic regulations are little enforced.

In March, 24 people were killed in a similar accident when a bus crashed into a truck parked on the side of a road near the Sinai Peninsula.

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Israel approves Egyptian-proposed Gaza truce

Gaza – Israel approved an Egyptian-proposed deal that would halt the week-old Gaza shelling war on Tuesday but the Palestinian territory’s dominant Hamas Islamists responded suspiciously, saying they had not been consulted by Cairo.

Hamas’s armed wing vowed its attacks would “increase in ferocity and intensity” but Palestinian rocket salvoes waned ahead of the mooted start of mutual de-escalation at 0600 GMT.

Israel said there had been two cross-border launches overnight that caused no damage, and that it had bombed 25 sites in Gaza. Palestinian medical officials said a 63-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman were killed – bringing the enclave’s death toll to more than 182, most of them civilians.

At Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv, the security cabinet convened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it voted to approve the truce deal, minutes before it was to come into effect.

Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli defence official and envoy to Cairo, cast the deal positively, saying Hamas had been weakened by the air and sea bombardment of impoverished Gaza.

“Look at the balance, and you see that Hamas tried every possible means of striking at Israel while bringing great and terrible damage on its people, from their perspective,” Gilad told Israel’s Army Radio.

“The Egyptian proposal includes a halt to all kind of [military] activity,” he said. “What this proposal, if it is accepted, means is that, willy-nilly, Hamas did not manage to make good on its intentions.”

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesperson in Gaza, said earlier on Tuesday that the Islamist group had not received an official ceasefire proposal, and he repeated its position that demands it has made must be met before it lays down its weapons.

Hamas’s armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, rejected the reported text of the truce deal, saying: “Our battle with the enemy continues and will increase in ferocity and intensity”.

Rockets in Eilat

The worst Gaza flare-up in two years has killed no one in Israel, largely due to its Iron Dome anti-missile system. But the frequent rocket salvoes have disrupted life as air raid sirens sent people in much of the country racing to shelters.

In what may have been an effort to upstage Cairo’s mediation, three rockets were launched from the Egyptian Sinai at the southern Israeli resort of Eilat, wounding four people, Israeli officials said. They said the salvo was likely fired by Islamist fighters hostile to Israel and the Egyptian government.

Under the proposal announced by Egypt’s Foreign Ministry “de-escalation arrangements” would take effect at 0600 GMT, pending implementation of a full truce within 12 hours after.

High-level delegations from Israel and the Palestinian factions would hold separate talks in Cairo within 48 hours to consolidate the ceasefire with “confidence-building measures”.

The Arab League said in a statement it welcomed the Egyptian initiative “to protect the lives of the innocent”.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who reached an agreement with Hamas in April that led to the formation of a unity government last month, welcomed the proposal and urged its acceptance, official Palestinian news agency WAFA said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry will hold talk with Egyptian officials in Cairo on situation on Tuesday, Egypt’s state news agency said. In Washington, US President Barack Obama on Monday spoke positively of the emerging ceasefire.

Reiterating US support for Israel in the face of Hamas’s “inexcusable” attacks and concern for Palestinian civilian casualties, Obama said in a speech: “We are encouraged that Egypt has made a proposal to accomplish this [truce] goal which we hope can restore a calm that we’ve been seeking”.

Hours before the proposal was announced, Gaza militants resumed rocket attacks on Tel Aviv after a 24-hour lull, while Israel kept up its strikes in the Gaza Strip and deployed infantry and armour along the frontier.

Israel had mobilised tens of thousands of troops for a threatened Gaza invasion if the rocket salvoes persisted.

“We still have the possibility of going in, under cabinet authority, and putting an end to them [the rockets],” Gilad said.

Late on Monday, Israel bombed the house of Marwan Issa, a top commander of Hamas’ armed wing, in Bureij refugee camp.

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Egypt arrests man for raping Russian tourist

Cairo – Egyptian police said on Saturday they have arrested a driver for raping a Russian tourist in a resort town, as the government cracks down on an epidemic of sexual harassment and violence.

Police said the mini-bus driver raped the woman after pretending the vehicle had broken down, to trick her husband into getting off before speeding off with his intended victim.

The incident took place in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, where the tourism ministry had previously shut down two hotels over alleged rapes.

In Cairo, police said on Saturday they have arrested a low-ranking officer who groped a Tunisian woman at Cairo airport.

The government recently passed a law imposing harsher penalties for sexual crimes.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged to crack down on such crimes, after footage circulated of men sexually assaulting a woman during a rally.

Thirteen men have been put on trial over that attack and others during rallies in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

Rights groups said 250 cases of sexual violence against women were reported between November 2012 and January 2014, many of them around the iconic square where protesters rallied to unseat two presidents over three years.

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