Egypt’s Islamist president condemns shelling of Gaza

 

Cairo

Egypt’s Islamist president today denounced Israel’s shelling of Gaza as an “unacceptable aggression,” ordering his prime minister to visit the Hamas-governed enclave in what could emerge as the first major test for the country’s leader.

In the worst outbreak of violence in the territory since the Gaza war nearly four years ago, President Mohammed Morsi has been quick to censure Israel, recalling the Egyptian ambassador from Tel Aviv, issuing a letter of protest to the Israeli envoy in Cairo, and calling an emergency meeting of the Arab League for Saturday. 

Egypt’s actions will be closely watched in the coming days as its Muslim Brotherhood government balances its allegiances to Hamas, the Islamist rulers of Gaza, while avoiding tension with the United States, Israel’s staunchest ally.

In the first visit by such a high-level official since Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, seized power in Gaza in 2007, Egypt’s prime minister, Hesham Kandil, is expected to arrive in Gaza today over the Egypt-Gaza border crossing at Rafah in a show of solidarity with the Palestinians.

His visit, although largely symbolic, is a notable gesture, and comes as hundreds of Egyptians turned out in Cairo, with more protests planned, calling on Israel to halt the offensive, and demanding that Egypt sever ties with the Jewish State.

As the crisis escalated today with the death of seven Palestinians and three Israelis, Mr Morsi criticised the attacks, but stopped short of an outright condemnation of Israel. “The people of Egypt and its government stand with all its capabilities to stop this aggression to prevent the bloodshed and killing of Palestinians,” he said in his first public remarks on the crisis, promising to stand side by side with the Palestinians “until we stop this aggression on them.”

In sharp contrast to the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leader Mohammed Badie today denounced Israel as a “project of the devil,” Mr Morsi took a more pragmatic approach, saying that he had discussed with US President Barak Obama how “peace and security could be achieved for everyone without aggression.” 

His response may fall short, however, for the many ordinary Egyptians who sympathise with Palestinian national aspirations, and hope that Mr Morsi will prove to be more robust in relations with Israel than his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, ousted from power in a revolution last February. 

Under the Mubarak regime, the Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed, and official relations with Hamas were, at best, strained. Mr Morsi, who emerged the victor in the country’s first free presidential elections in June, has his roots in the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'