Twelve Jordanian parliamentarians have cancelled a planned visit to Gaza on security grounds.
The lawmakers traveled last week to Cairo, expecting to enter Gaza via the Rafah border crossing in a “solidarity” move following this summer’s Operation Protective Edge. Also on the agenda were planned meetings with leaders of Hamas and other terrorist groups.
On Saturday, however, they announced they were turning around and heading back to Jordan without having visited Gaza.
“The Egyptian authorities have informed us that the security situation in Sinai is very dangerous, especially the area between Rafah and Al-Arish, which makes it difficult for us to reach the border with the Gaza Strip,” said Jordanian delegation head Yehya Al-Saud. He added that the Egyptian government asked the group to postpone its visit out of concern for “the safety of its members,” saying they “wouldn’t be able to guarantee our safety.”
A second delegate, Khamis Attiyeh, said “We are all very sad because of the cancellation of our visit due to the situation.”
One Palestinian Authority Arab was killed and two others were wounded Saturday in clashes with Egyptian soldiers near Rafah, according to Arab sources. A group of Gazans emerged from a smuggling tunnel on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza, according to the report. Egyptian officers opened fire after the group ignored calls to surrender, and instead attempted to re-enter the tunnel and escape back into Gaza. Egyptian security has been on high alert after receiving intelligence about planned attacks through the tunnels.
Last week six Egyptian police officers were killed and two more were wounded last week when a roadside bomb exploded in northern Sinai on the road between Rafah and the provincial capital, El Arish. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a terror group linked to Al Qaeda, has taken responsibility for similar past attacks, claiming it is avenging the blood of Islamists killed and detained in the government’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood organization.
In the past month several people have been beheaded in the Sinai Peninsula. The victims were murdered for allegedly collaborating with Israel. They were killed by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis terrorists.
Hana Levi Julian