One of the most striking things that I took away from my time in Egypt last winter was the extent to which the U.S.-backed Mubarak dictatorship goes to squash public dissent on their government’s Gaza policy. Swarms of riot police encircled countless peaceful protests calling on the Egyptian government to let activists part of the Gaza Freedom March into Gaza, and Egyptian police beat and injured activists part of the march. During the marchers’ standoff with the Mubarak regime, the Egyptian government was exposed as being collaborators in the Israeli blockade of Gaza, something that deeply upsets ordinary Egyptians and led to Mubarak getting hammered in the Arab press.
Egypt is being exposed once again as complicit in Israeli crimes, thanks to the over 250,000 documents the whistle blowing website WikiLeaks released yesterday. This revelation–that Israel consulted with Egypt and Fatah in the run up to the brutal Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-09–is decidedly more explosive than the very public complicity of the Egyptian government in the siege of Gaza.
In a June 2009 meeting between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and a U.S. congressional delegation, Barak claimed that the Israeli government “had consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas.”
Egypt said no to the proposition, but the document shows that Egypt (and Fatah, but that’s for another post) had advance knowledge of Operation Cast Lead and could have stopped it. Instead, Mubarak was silent, the criminal assault went on, and some 1,400 Palestinians died because of it, the vast majority of them civilians.