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Last Updated: Monday, 12 March 2007, 20:24 GMT
Egypt shows 1967 'killings' films
By Amani Soliman
BBC Monitoring

Israeli troops in 1967 war
The film has revived controversy about events during the 1967 war
Egyptian opposition politicians have expressed fresh anger over an Israeli documentary film about the treatment of Egyptian troops during the 1967 war.

Part of the controversial film was shown in Egypt on Sunday.

It was obtained by the foreign ministry and made available in a bid to cool down public anger, although the tactic seems to have had the reverse effect.

Egypt wants Israel to investigate whether its troops killed 250 Egyptian POWs taken in fighting in Sinai.

After the film aired in Israel two weeks ago, the government there strongly denied its troops had executed Egyptian POWs, saying the dead had been 250 Palestinians killed in action.

Poor, scared

A sequence of approximately seven minutes from the documentary called Ruach Shaked (The Spirit of Shaked), after the name of the elite Israeli army unit, was shown on Egyptian private and state-run television channels.

The film showed a veteran of the Shaked commando unit that took part in the operations say: "They [the Egyptian troops] were in a poor state, scared - some of them hid in holes in the sand so we wouldn't find them. But we found them. Only some of them put up a fight."

Benjamin Ben-Eliezer
Mr Ben-Eliezer was reportedly told that he could be arrested in Egypt
Another former unnamed Shaked member, shown from behind as he drove a car, said that the Israeli forces had faced no danger from the retreating Egyptian army and in retrospect should have disobeyed orders to engage them.

The unit at the centre of the claims was led by Israel's current infrastructure minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who was forced to cancel a trip to Egypt this month over the controversy.

Egyptian members of parliament are furious over a statement made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Abul Gheit that "Egypt won't cut relations with Israel over a film".

Muslim Brotherhood MP Hussein Ibrahim said Mr Abul Gheit's statement was an insult to all Egyptians.

A number of MPs have signed a petition addressed to the government asking to freeze all agreements with Israel.

Others have called for the establishment of a media campaign that would expose "Israeli crimes".

Duty

Although Egypt signed a peace agreement with Israel, known as the Camp David agreement, in 1979, many Egyptians are against the normalisation of ties with Israel.

The leading state-owned daily al-Ahram stressed in its editorial on 12 March "the need for rational management of the POWs case through specialised international bodies".

The paper believes that Egypt's foreign ministry is doing its duty in that context.

The paper's editorial said: "We need law jurists to help the ministry in that regard, instead of casting doubts on the government's seriousness in taking revenge for our POWs."

However, the independent weekly al-Usbu's editorial was critical of the foreign ministry for failing to respond to the Israeli ambassador's statement that Israel will not respond to an Egyptian request to launch an investigation into the killing of the soldiers.

Al-Misri al-Yawm, an independent daily, focusing on domestic issues, reported on 12 March that "demonstrations were to take place in front of the foreign ministry to protest against the "massacre" of Egyptian soldiers.

The paper said the demonstrators were demanding the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in Cairo and the cutting of diplomatic relations with Israel.


SEE ALSO
Sinai war film maker admits error
09 Mar 07 |  Middle East
Egypt anger over 1967 'massacre'
05 Mar 07 |  Middle East
Cold peace over Sinai's borders
08 Oct 04 |  Middle East
Shifting sands: Israel and the Sinai
08 Oct 04 |  Middle East

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