Latest update: 28/12/2009
- Egypt - France - GAZA ASSAULT - Gaza Strip
French demonstrators block Cairo embassy to protest Gaza ban
French protester set up tents and blocked a road outside the French embassy in Egypt after they were banned from travelling to the Gaza border (pictured) to mark the anniversary of the Israeli assault on the Palestinian enclave.
By News Wires (text)
AFP - French protesters camped out in front of the their embassy in Cairo to protest a ban on them from travelling from Egypt to Gaza for a march in support of the blockaded Palestinian enclave.
About 300 protesters set up tents and blocked a road in front of the mission after buses they had rented to take them to El-Arish, a town close to the border with Gaza, never came.
They said they were told by the bus company that security authorities had banned the trip.
Egypt had earlier said it would not allow any of about 1,300 protestors who have come from 42 countries to take part in the Gaza march to enter the enclave.
The French protesters, who chanted pro-Palestinian slogans and held up French flags and signs in Arabic asking for entry into Gaza, were persuaded to set up camp on a curb in front of the embassy after police threatened them with water cannons.
"No more talk, we want our busses," they chanted when the French ambassador negotiated with them. One protester said she wanted to travel to Gaza to "show the Palestinians that they are not alone."
Elsewhere in Cairo, police stopped about 200 protesters from the United States and other countries from renting boats on the Nile to hold a procession marking a year since a devastating war in Gaza killed 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
Egypt shares the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, the only passage to the impoverished coastal enclave that bypasses Israel. Gaza has been blockaded since the Islamist Hamas movement took it over in 2007.
Egypt has said it would not allow the passage of the protesters into Gaza because of the "sensitive situation" there.