When: Sunday, December 28, late evening. A group of French activists from the solidarity group EuroPalestine take over Mourad Street, the boulevard in front of the French Embassy in Cairo, next to the Four Seasons Hotel. They occupied the street with tents for 4 hours, stopping traffic, demanding buses to take them to the Gaza strip, forcing the French Ambassador to come and negotiate on their behalf.
The French solidarity group Europalestine, part of the Gaza Freedom March, a group of 1,400 activists from 42 countries, congregated in Cairo after the Egyptian government barred their entry to the Gaza strip. The international coalition had intended to take part in a non-violent demonstration with 50,000 Palestinians to commemorate Israel’s Cast Lead operation and protest the ongoing blockade. When Egypt refused to give them permission to board buses for the Rafah crossing, the French group, over 300 strong, sprung into action, occupying Avenue Charles de Gaulle—Mourad Street—in front of the French Embassy and demanding that their ambassador take action.
Dozens of armored police transport vehicles line the far side of the boulevard. Hundreds of riot cops with Plexiglas shields are blocking the French activists in. Red water cannons sit on the other side of the street. The French activists are talking with the riot police, asking them about their professions and their children. There are on-going negotiations, but they insist that they will not leave until they have buses that will take them to Rafah. According to Olivia Zemor, the coordinator of the French group, “we are waiting for the buses, we are staying in front of the French embassy, even if it’s not comfortable, it’s much more comfortable than Gaza.” The Gaza Freedom March coordinators have put out a call to action for all to join them in front of the French Embassy.