On Friday, millions of Egyptians shouted, “With Heart and Soul, We Will Sacrifice for You, Palestine,” while rejecting the possibility that thousands of Palestinians might be pushed to the Sinai Peninsula as a result of Israeli aggression.
Under scorching sun and after a collective prayer, what’s been called “Egypt’s Friday” began, where the face of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi blended with Palestinian flags and “Save Gaza” posters on one of the main streets of Nasr City district in Cairo, next to the Unknown Soldier monument.
The choice of this location wasn’t random. This monument commemorates the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the Sinai’s recovery by Egypt after the Israeli occupation. It stands right in front of the grandstand where Egyptian President Mohammed Anwar Sadat was assassinated during the October 6 parade. He was the signatory of the 1979 peace agreement with Israel.
“We’ve been watching your channels….Where are our voices?”
— Quds News Network (@QudsNen)
October 20, 2023
WHERE IS THE ‘ARAB ARMY’?
During the protest, organized by the National Dialogue, which brings together political parties, unions, opposition, business guilds, and other public actors, other Arabic slogans were chanted, like one asking, “Where is the Arab army?” or “Screw you, Israel.”
Amid the display of slogans, the Egyptians’ pent-up anger emerged, such as that of Jihad Mahmoud, who said that she attended the demonstration to “support the Palestinian cause and oppose everything happening in Gaza by Israel,” as well as to give her “approval to Al-Sisi.”
But this a 24-year-old woman is clear about one thing: “If the decision were ours, we would go fight with them,” referring to the Palestinians.
For Dina al-Masri, who is of both Palestinian and Egyptian descent, attending this demonstration means something different than it seems for other participants.
“I’ve come to see what this is all about. It’s all nonsense. Nothing is going to happen. Only Benjamin Netanyahu and the U.S. president can give the orders and make everything happen,” she said.
Dina, who lost part of her aunt’s family in an Israeli bombing in Khan Younis, in the Strip, two days ago, already lives frustrated and sad “because of what’s happening in Gaza and the lack of solidarity among Arab countries. If all Arab countries united, Palestine would return.”
��United Arab masses take to the streets in support of #Gaza, ���� resistance & its beloved siblings in the rest of occupied ���� Palestine. Marches and demonstrations are taking place in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Qatar, Egypt and more. pic.twitter.com/huaKqtBfZT
— Ellen Jean Abare (@EllenJeanAbare)
October 20, 2023
EVERYTHING BUT SINAI
Al-Sisi’s red line is in the Sinai Peninsula, which shares a border with Gaza, something that the demonstration attendees emphasized by shouting, “Everything but Sinai.”
It was during an unusual press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Cairo last Wednesday when Al-Sisi outlined the hotspots he’s not willing to cross.
Al-Sisi warned that if his country hosts displaced Palestinians from Gaza, the Sinai could become a field of Palestinian resistance operations, and Israel could attack Egyptian territory. That’s when he threatened to call on the people and organize mass demonstrations to express rejection of the displacement to Sinai.
“Egypt has 105 million inhabitants, and Egyptian and Arab public opinion is affected. If the situation arises, it will be necessary to ask the Egyptian people to come out and express their rejection of this idea. And you will see millions of Egyptians… coming out to express their rejection of the idea and support Egypt’s position in this regard,” he affirmed.
And so it has been today. Not only in Cairo—where there was also a pro-Palestine protest in the central Tahrir Square, a symbol of the 2011 popular uprisings—but in all the provinces.