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Update: Egyptian security forces confront Gaza Freedom March protesters, possibly at the request of the US embassy

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Protest in Cairo (Photo: Michael Ratner)

11:14 am, Dec. 30 – Joshua Smith wrote us with this clarification of his report below:

I just came across your report in response of Cindy’s article of which myself and Mike Hearington gave her. Cindy’s reference to "cell" means a bounded space. And the story "IS" accurate. I was there in person witnessing and part of it also. They tried to drag me in and was amidst the people being jumped on attempting to photograh the man being dragged in and THROWN over the lines of riot police. And as we got away down the block we spoke with a woman on the inside of that riot police barricaded area.

12:27 pm – Update: The details of what is going on in Cairo are a bit sketchy. I sent the email below to Ali Abunimah in Cairo to verify and he sent this back – "The report is not accurate in a number of particulars. No one was put in a cell but they were barricaded and surrounded and prevented from leaving for several hours."

12:00 pm – Reports are starting to come out that Egypt has detained participants in the Gaza Freedom March ourside the U.S. embassy. Max Ajl posts on Jewbonics:

Egyptian security forces have detained approximately 25 American citizens inside and 7 or 8 American citizens outside the US embassy compound in Cairo, Egypt.

Gathered in Cairo as part of the Gaza Freedom March, a coalition of over 1400 internationals from over 40 countries, the US marchers went to the American embassy to beseech their help to facilitate the negotiations with the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in gaining entrance to Gaza with their humanitarian aid.

Almost immediately, security forces converged on their position. After calling the American Embassy 5 or 6 times, Gael Murphy one of the organizers of the Gaza Freedom March was asked by embassy staff to where the citizens were willing to be moved. Murphy says that this “suggests the American embassy is responsible” for calling Egyptian Security Forces to the compound to protect it from peaceful American citizens.

And the following report from Cindy Sheehan is making the rounds:

BREAKING: U.S. Citizens attacked by Egyptian Riot Police in Cairo in front of
U.S. Embassy

by Cindy Sheehan

One of my friends, Joshua Smith, just texted me from Cairo and said that some U.S. citizens of the Gaza Freedom March went to the U.S. Embassy today there to try and implore the staff there to intercede on behalf of the March to help get them into Gaza–they were not so warmly welcomed.

Recently, almost 1400 people from around the globe met in Cairo to march into Gaza to join Gazans in solidarity and to help expose their plight after years of blockade and exactly a year after the violent attack in what Israel called "Operation Cast Lead" that killed hundreds of innocent Gazan civilians. So far the Marchers have been denied access (Egypt closed the Rafah crossing) and their gatherings have become increasingly and more violently suppressed.

In my understanding of world affairs, embassies are stationed in various countries so citizens who are traveling can seek help in times of trouble, but this doesn’t appear to be so right at this moment in Cairo.

Josh reports, and I also just got off the phone with my good friend and Veterans for Peace board member, Mike Hearington, that about 50 U.S. citizens were very roughly seized and thrown (in at least one case literally) into a detention cell at the U.S. embassy. We are talking about U.S. citizens here being manhandled by Egyptian riot police. According to Josh and Mike (who both just narrowly escaped), it appears that people with cameras are especially being targeted. Another good friend of mine, and good friend of peace, Fr. Louis Vitale is one of those being detained. Fr. Louis is well into his seventies!

Josh posted this on his Facebook wall about his near-detention experience:

We just got away. They were trying to drag me in but we kept moving… And most were dog piling another guy. Then they drug him into the parking lot barricaded riot police zone, lifted him up and threw him over the police and down into the zone. And attacking those taking pictures or attempting to.

When I was talking to Mike he said that an Egyptian told him that all Egyptians are in solidarity with the Marchers and with the people of Gaza/Palestine, of course, but the “Big Boss” (the U.S.) is calling the shots.

Egypt is third in line for U.S. foreign aid (behind Iraq and Israel) and its
dictator for life, Hosni Mubarek, is a willing puppet for his masters: the
US/Israeli cabal. Israel could not pursue its apartheid policies without the
U.S. and it’s equally important for this cabal to have a sold-out ally as its

Today also happens to be the anniversary of the 1890 U.S. massacre of Native Americans (Lakota Sioux) at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. It is sad enough that we are also living on stolen land, but also that the Israeli government had good teachers in disposing of its indigenous population!

What are the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, if not stolen land from the indigenous population and what is Gaza if not a mega-reservation? As at Wounded Knee 119 years ago, the Israeli siege and attack on Gaza is nothing more than big bullies shooting fish in a barrel.

Weren’t things supposed to “change” in the Age of Obama?

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