Now that the Egyptian army and security services have seized power from the elected Muslim Brotherhood government, the punishment of Palestinians has begun in earnest. While Palestinians are detained or deported en masse at Cairo International Airport, hundreds have been stranded at the Rafah Crossing, which was recently closed by the Egyptian army, compounding a deepening fuel and food crisis.
Incitement against Palestinians peaked after the election of the Freedom and Justice Party’s Mohamed Morsi as President, with liberal politicians and media figures from the opposition exploiting the Morsi-led government’s perceived alliance with Hamas to hold him responsible for acts of terror committed in the Sinai Peninsula.
Since the army ousted Morsi, almost all Palestinians who have arrived at Cairo International Airport have been deported or detained. Among those sent home simply for possessing a Palestinian ID was Yousef Aljamal, a writer and activist who has contributed to Mondoweiss and The Electronic Intifada. According to Ali Abunimah, who first publicized Aljamal’s deportation, Aljamal was on his way home to Gaza from New Zealand, where he had participated in the Conference on Palestine in Auckland. When Aljamal arrived in Cairo with a visa he received from the Egyptian embassy in Kuala Lumpur, he was immediately sent back to Malaysia.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported that since the Egyptian coup, “hundreds of Palestinians, including dozens of patients, Palestinian families living in other countries and university students who study abroad, have been stuck in Egypt waiting to be allowed to travel back to the Gaza Strip."
In recent days, Egyptian forces have destroyed at least 40 tunnels connecting Egypt and Gaza, intensifying operations that began under the watch of Morsi, whose government worked closely with US and Israeli military officials. With Gaza unable to import basic goods and gas from Egypt, its only alternative is to turn to Israel, whose suppliers rake in profits by charging exorbitant rates to a literally captive market.
Israeli officials have reacted to the scenario with undisguised glee, with Tzachi Hanegbi, a close Netanyahu ally, declaring, “the return to prominence of the [Egyptian] army and a secular authority capable of ensuring the stability of the country is good news for Israel.”