By Amr Emam – Cairo
The sights of death and destruction in the besieged Gaza Strip struck close to the hearts of many Egyptians, especially with their government being accused of complicity in the latest Israeli crime.
"Arab governments are complicit in what happens to the Palestinians," Ashraf Abdel Monem, who workers at a pharmaceuticals company, told IslamOnline.net.
"These governments help Israel tighten its grip on the dispossessed Palestinians and kill them."
At least 206 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in a series of Israeli air strikes against targets in Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian resistance responded with rocket salvoes that killed one Israeli and wounded several others.
But the images of Palestinians lying on the ground in the aftermath of the raids while blood was dispersed everywhere sent shockwaves in Egypt, a country that has officially signed a peace treaty with Israel almost 30 years ago, but continues to consider its northeastern neighbor an enemy on the public level.
Abdel Monem joined several thousands of Egyptians, including opposition activists and MPS, who gathered outside the Journalists’ Syndicate in downtown Cairo to protest the latest Israeli crime.
Many accused President Hosni Mubarak’s regime of taking a spectator’s position while the blood of the Palestinians continues to be shed in the Gaza Strip.
"Mubarak and (Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi) Livni have agreed on the genocide of the Palestinian people," read one banner.
"Mubarak is an accomplice in attacks against the Palestinian people," read another.
Livni met with Mubarak in Cairo on Thursday and said Israel would strike the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptian regime has been criticized for closing down Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only window to the outside world.
In a rare occurrence, Mohamed Mahdi Akef, the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest opposition force, urged Arab governments to take action to stop "Zionist criminals of Israel."
"Egypt should stop to welcome the Israelis here," Akef said.
"It’s not logical that the Israelis kill our brothers and sisters in Palestine and we throw the red carpet for them here," he told IOL.
Egypt condemned the Israeli onslaught, opening its Rafah border crossing to allow the wounded through for treatment.
"We call for an immediate end to Israeli military operations. We cannot allow these attacks to continue," Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said on state television.
"We cannot permit the murder of Palestinians."
Countering criticism that Egypt might have told Hamas Israel was not about to launch an attack, Abul Gheit said "Israel told the international community and its officials told the whole world of their intentions."
Egypt summoned Israeli Ambassador Shalom Cohen to demand an end to the bombardment.
Earlier, President Mubarak condemned "the Israeli military aggression on the Gaza Strip and blames Israel, as an occupying force, for the victims and the wounded."
The MPs who took part in the protest said they will call for a special parliament session on the Israeli attacks.
"We will continue to put pressure on Arab governments as well as the criminals of Israel until Palestine is free," said Abdel Monem Abul Fotouh, a member of the Doctors Union.
– Amr Emam is a correspondent for IslamOnline.net in Cairo. (Originally published in IslamOnline.net)