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Egypt: Police officer missing after one-man protest demanding opening of Gaza border

Abdel-Gawad Muhammad al-Sahlamy was arrested on Friday after he waved a Palestinian flag from on top of a billboard in Alexandria and called President Sisi a 'traitor'
Human rights campaigners say that Abdel-Gawad Muhammad al-Sahlamy has not been heard from for four days (Facebook)

Egyptian human rights campaigners have expressed concern over the disappearance of a police officer who staged a one-man Palestine solidarity protest in Alexandria.

Abdel-Gawad Muhammad al-Sahlamy was arrested on Friday after waving a Palestinian flag and calling Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi a "traitor and an agent" in the coastal city's Sidi Gaber Square.

Video footage circulated online revealed Sahlamy, 45, standing atop a billboard, wielding the flag and shouting "I'm not afraid of you, Sisi!"

The Egyptian Network for Human Rights (ENHR) reported that Sahlamy had not been heard from for four days. 

In a statement, ENHR quoted a friend of Sahlamy who said that he was "breaking down" about the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza and had said that "the borders should be opened, this is injustice and people are dying".

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The NGO demanded Sahlamy's immediate release and said that they held "the Egyptian Ministry of Interior fully responsible for his life, security and safety".

Palestine solidarity protests erupted across Egypt after Israel began its ongoing assault on Gaza on 7 October.

On Friday 20 October, thousands rallied in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 18-day revolution of January 2011 that culminated in the resignation of then-President Hosni Mubarak.

Over 100 people were reportedly arrested following the nationwide protests, and since then expressions of Palestine solidarity have been restricted to small-scale rallies demanding the opening of the Rafah crossing and the entry of food and aid into Gaza.

On 30 December, four international activists were detained and held incommunicado for over 27 hours following a pro-Palestine protest outside the Egyptian foreign ministry in Cairo.

They had staged a rally outside the foreign ministry to demand security clearance for the Global Conscience Convoy - a humanitarian convoy into Gaza planned by Egypt's Journalist Syndicate to deliver badly needed aid to the besieged enclave.

Egypt shares a border with Gaza but has so far not opened it up for the entry of aid into the besieged territory.

All aid entering the besieged territory via the Rafah crossing from Egypt has to go through Israeli checks before being allowed to enter, with many aid trucks held up at the border.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Egypt Red Crescent Society has delivered 9,451 trucks to Gaza, containing more than 90,000 tons of food and water, and 25,000 tonnes of emergency material.

This does not match the huge need for aid among Gaza's population, which is facing famine.

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