The normalisation of relations between Egypt and the Zionist regime went into effect in January 1980.
Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Egypt’s president Abdelfattah El Sisi discussed on Tuesday concerted Arab efforts centred around regional sticking points, state news reported.
In a phone conversation, Sheikh Tamim expressed his appreciation for Cairo’s successful mediating moves to achieve a ceasefire to end Israel’s latest offensive in the Gaza Strip, calling it part of Egypt’s efforts to facilitate regional peace and security, reports said.
A Qatar and Egypt-brokered ceasefire, announced late on Sunday, ended the occupying state’s aggression, following a three-day attack which claimed the lives of more than 40 Palestinians, including at least 15 children.
At least 350 Palestinian civilians have also been wounded.
The amir, according to reports, expressed his country’s keenness to further boost current relations between the two countries in a bid to create more opportunities for both sides.
Sisi reiterated the importance of close ties shared between Doha and Cairo, and how such relations could foster a closer-knit bond between the two. Both nations also worked to end Israel’s previous offensive last year, in which more than 200 Palestinians were killed.
The latest “comprehensive and reciprocal ceasefire” to end the deadly offensive on the besieged city came into effect on Sunday following intensive talks between Egypt, the occupying regime and Gaza’s ruling-Hamas movement.
Ziyad Al Nakhla, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement’s secretary general, pledged that if the group’s conditions for the ceasefire are not respected by Israel, the fighting will resume.
He said one of the key agreements in the ceasefire was an Egyptian commitment to follow up on the files of Palestinian prisoners, especially Khalil Awawdeh and PIJ official Bassam Al Saadi.
“The Islamic Jihad lays down its conditions. First, to unite all the Palestinians. Second, we demand that the enemy release our brother who has been on hunger strike, Khalil Awawda, and third, to release Sheikh Bassem Al Saadi,” Al Nakhala told reporters in Iranian capital as quoted by Al Jazeera.
Cairo issued a statement saying it is “exerting efforts to release” Awawda and “transfer him for treatment” and is working for the release of Al Saadi “as soon as possible”.
Awawdeh has been on a hunger strike for more than 100 days in protest of his “administrative detention” by the Zionist regime.
Al Saadi was arrested again last week after spending 15 years in Israeli prison for his involvement in the Islamic Jihad group. Following his arrest, Israel blocked the roads surrounding Gaza.
The Zionist state has long used its fight against Hamas and other Palestinian groups as the pretext for its attacks on defenceless civilians in Gaza.
The Egypt-brokered deal also involves easing the siege on the strip as well as introducing fuel trucks to the city’s sole power station from Monday. Gaza’s power plant shut off on Saturday amid the latest round of bombardment, as Israel simultaneously closed the Karam Abu Salem crossing.
Qatar-funded fuel helps power the city’s electricity station, which provides electricity in eight-hour rotations for the public.
On top of withholding fuel from the power plant, the occupying state also controls up to 90% of water in the besieged enclave. Sources and figures show that only 10.5% of Palestinians in Gaza have access to safe drinking water.
Recent Qatar-Egypt developments
During the 2017 GCC crisis, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar, imposing an illegal air, land and sea blockade on the country. Ties began thawing after the signing of the Al Ula Declaration last year, under which the embargo was lifted.
In June, Qatar’s Amir travelled to Egypt and met with El Sisi, marking the first such visit since the 2017 blockade. It, however, remains unclear whether the imprisonment of Al Jazeera journalists was mentioned during the meeting.
Despite warming of relations between the two countries, the Sisi government continues to arrest and extend detainments of Al Jazeera journalists.
Egypt authorities renewed the detention of Al Jazeera journalist Rabie El Sheikh for 45 days, a decision slammed by the Qatar-based network as an attack on press freedom.
The Sisi regime came to power following a military coup against the late Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first ever democratically elected president.
The Egyptian president has since carried crackdowns on activists and journalists, placing Cairo on the map of the world’s most dangerous places for the press.
According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Egypt is one of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists, with many spending years in jail and solitary confinement without being formally charged or tried.
RSF says that more than 500 websites have been blocked since the summer of 2017, including news outlets. According to data from RSF, Egypt ranked 166th out of 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index.
A day after the amir’s visit to Egypt in June, RSF published a report, highlighting that four Al Jazeera journalists “have been paying for the political rivalry between the two countries for too long and have no place being in prison.”
The Qatar-based Al Jazeera network was banned after Sisi forcefully seized power from Egypt’s first democratically-elected President Mohammed Morsi in a military coup in 2013. He also outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood and launched a major and brutal crackdown on its members and supporters after capturing control.
Al Jazeera, which closed its offices after Egyptian security forces broke up demonstrations in Rabia and Al Nahda squares on 14 August 2013, began broadcasting once again in August 2021, after an eight year hiatus.