CAIRO: Border guards in Rafah arrested a man in the early hours of Tuesday morning as he attempted to infiltrate the border into the Gaza Strip.
The man was identified as Mohamed Karam Shehata, from Beheira, who allegedly was fleeing domestic troubles. Security authorities at the border said that he was suffering from mental illness.
Shehata was taken to the Military Prosecution Office in Al-Arish and charged with being in a restricted area and attempting to illegally cross the border. Last Sunday another Egyptian man was arrested near the border with Israel. He was allegedly fleeing alimony payments to his ex-wife and was also described as suffering from mental illness.
“Anyone who is caught trying to head to Palestine or Israel is always described as suffering from mental illness, so it is no surprise that as usual this case is the same,” North Sinai activist and journalist Mustapha Singer told Daily News Egypt.
Singer added that the expected sentence for those trying to infiltrate the border was a one-year suspended sentence and a LE 1,000 fine, the same as for African migrants who are caught trying to cross into Israel.
However, it is common that African migrants are shot at while they are attempting to cross over, with authorities claiming that they do not heed repeated calls to stop. Last year, 19 Africans were killed at the border and nine have been killed this year.
Meanwhile, a delegation from the European Parliament that was due to enter Gaza via the Rafah border crossing Monday has not yet shown up at the crossing. The delegation had initially been refused entry to Gaza via Southern Israel.
The delegation was expected to be in Gaza May 24 and stay for three days but until press time had not reportedly entered the Strip. The delegation had criticized Israel for refusing entry into Gaza via the Erez crossing.
“The delegation has protested against the Israeli authorities’ decision to deny access to the Gaza Strip,” a statement said, “MEPs have dismissed Israeli concerns that their visit to Gaza would confer legitimacy on Hamas. MEPs stress that the purpose of the visit is purely to look at EU-funded reconstruction efforts and assess the activities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the area.”
A seven-strong delegation form the American Association for International Conciliation did enter Gaza via Rafah last Friday and returned two days letter. The aim of the delegation was to assist in reconciliation between Palestinian factions whose divisions have seen Hamas rule in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank.
Gaza has been under a blockade for almost three years now, when fighting saw Hamas expel Fatah from the Strip. The only crossing into Gaza not directly controlled by Israel is at Rafah.