The wake of the Hamas-Israel ceasefire is getting turbulent:
Egypt’s president on Thursday issued constitutional amendments that placed him above judicial oversight and ordered the retrial of Hosni Mubarak for the killing of protesters in last year’s uprising.
Mohammed Morsi also decreed immunity for the Islamist-dominated panel drafting a new constitution from any possible court decisions to dissolve it, a threat that had been hanging over the controversial assembly.
Morsi took this and other actions within hours after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Here’s a link to the text of PM Morsi’s declaration.
Nobody is yet making a connection between his meetings with HRC and this move, but one might ponder this from 2009:
We look forward to President Mubarak coming as soon as his schedule would permit. I had a wonderful time with him this morning. I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family. So I hope to see him often here in Egypt and in the United States.
Clinton’s main job in the Middle East, after satisfying Netanyahu and his ilk, is finding the best dictators our money or threats can purchase. She may have found one this week.
Protests are gathering in Cairo as I write:
Demonstrators for and against sweeping new powers assumed by Egypt’s Islamist president are gathering in different parts of Cairo, a clear show of the deep polarization plaguing the country.
Protests following Friday midday prayers are set to be led by prominent pro-democracy figures, like Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the U.N.’s nuclear agency.
Muslim Brotherhood backers were gathering in front of the presidential palace northern Cairo to support Morsi.
Earlier tonight ElBaradei tweeted:
Morsi today usurped all state powers & appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh. A major blow to the revolution that cld have dire consequences
In Gaza, Israeli forces appear to have seriously violated the ceasefire agreement. The issue of changes in what constitutes the free fire zone along the Gaza-Israel border was widely reported to be in play in the Hamas-Israel negotiations mid-week. Mixed signals went out to Gazans. After the ceasefire, many Gazans approached the fence:
The old rule was that if you walked within 300 meters of the prison fence, you got killed. It was a really stupid, cruel rule, that has led to a lot of killing of innocent Gazan inmates, many of them kids.
A lot of people came to believe the old rule was gone, until:
One adult has been killed and 10 teenagers wounded as Israeli soldiers, stationed at the border line between Khan Younis and Israel, opened fire at them, medical sources say.
Witnesses told Al Jazeera that the teenagers entered the disputed area of the “buffer zone”, which is 300m along all the Gaza-Israel borders.
Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reporting from Gaza City said they had received reports that a number of farmers entered Khan Younis in the buffer zone, which ordinarily is a no go zone, to check on their crops.
She said they may have had confused information about that buffer zone as there has been lots of information about the easing of travel restrictions.
Other reports on the death seem more informative:
Medics said Anwar Qdeih, 23, was hit in the head by Israeli gunfire after he approached the security fence that runs along the Gaza frontier — an area that Israel has long declared a no-go zone for Gazans.
A relative of the dead man, who was at the scene, told Reuters that Qdeih had been trying to place a Hamas flag on the fence. He added that an Israeli soldier had fired into the air three times before Qdeih was hit in the head by a bullet.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: “We will contact the Egyptian mediator to discuss the incident.”
Abu Zuhri’s statement is reassuring, and may indicate Hamas truly wants this cease fire to hold.
This is a rapidly developing Black Friday story, and I may update it after I get some sleep.
Updated – 10:50 am PST: Mondoweiss is running this video with the claim that it is of the shootings written about above:
The cease fire appears to be holding, though.