The ban imposed by Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on the demonstrations did not prevent Egyptians coming out in popular solidarity with the Israeli escalation in Jerusalem and Gaza.
The announcement by many families and tribes in North Sinai of their full readiness to receive the families of the wounded Palestinians coming from the Gaza Strip represented an opportunity for the Egyptians to express their position in support of the Palestinians publicly. After Egypt announced the opening of the Rafah Crossing to receive the Palestinian injured in North Sinai hospitals, most of the families in the cities of Arish, Sheikh Zuweid, and Bir Al-Abed opened their diwaniyas to receive the families of the wounded and injured.
Unlike previous attacks, where the Egyptians were publicly expressing their rejection of the Israeli escalation against the Palestinians, this time, popular solidarity appears to be more muted in the street due to the internal situation in the country. It is noteworthy that the Egyptians and their universities and unions, and sometimes their schools in Cairo and major cities, are at the forefront of the demonstrators whenever tension escalates in the Palestinian territories. However, in recent years there has been a significant decline in the Egyptian pro-Palestinian demonstrations and more and more people have taken to social media.
These platforms have turned into squares and streets where the Egyptian people gather, declaring their rejection of aggression against Islamic sanctities. The hashtags “Palestine is our first cause,” “Gaza is victorious,” “Gaza under bombing,” “Al-Aqsa Mosque,” and “Jerusalem rises” spread in Egypt for several days. Athletes were also at the forefront of the tweeters and supporters, as the former football star Mohamed Aboutrika spoke to more than one media outlet, offering greetings to the people of Jerusalem and calling for resistance in Gaza.
The Egyptian star who plays for Arsenal, Mohamed Elneny, and Zamalek star Mahmoud Abdelrazek, known as “Shikabala,” also participated. The apparent widespread solidarity of first-class Egyptian actors was also noticeable, which some saw as an indication they received a green light from the authorities. Comedian Mohamed Henedi tweeted under the tag “Save Sheikh Jarrah.” Ahmed Mekki also emphasised that “Jerusalem is the (eternal) capital of Palestine.”
Singer Hamada Helal published pictures of the Israeli attacks against Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem, and Palestinian homes, and the Mu’tazila star Hanan Tork said: “Palestine will remain in our hearts.” Mahmoud Hemida recorded a video entitled “An Egyptian citizen’s excitement about what is happening in the occupied territories,” in which he expressed his condemnation of the killing committed against the Palestinians. Mahraganat artist, Hamo Beka, released a song entitled “Nafdiki Ya Palestine,” which garnered more than half a million views within a week.
On the ground, within 24 hours, 1,200 Egyptian doctors volunteered to travel and get medical treatment in Gaza after the Doctors Syndicate announced that it would open the door for those interested. Several people burnt the Israeli flag in Dakahlia (north). In Kafr El-Sheikh the Hanafi Youth Centre striker scored a goal against the Sidi Ghazi team, in the Egyptian Third Division League, then revealed a t-shirt under his team shirt with a Palestinian flag and the slogan “Palestine in the Heart” written under it.
Observers believe that the “relative relaxation” of the security authorities’ grip on pro-Gaza activities – unlike what happened in 2014 – is due to a new Egyptian approach to dealing with the Palestinian issue. Egypt would like to play a more active role as a key player in managing Arab-Israeli relations after others, including the Emirates, have threatened to overtake them in this.