Al-Ahram Weekly Online   3 - 9 April 2008
Issue No. 891
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


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AROUND 500 Egyptians stuck in Gaza for the past two months were allowed to return home after authorities opened the Rafah crossing on Tuesday. The Egyptians had reportedly crossed into Gaza when Hamas blew up parts of the border wall.

Hamas wants Egypt to reopen the crossing and give it a role in monitoring the border, a demand rejected by Cairo. Instead Egypt called for a return to the 2005 agreement that gives Israel and European Union monitors a supervisory role.

Earlier on Sunday, Palestinians at the Gaza-Egypt border demanded the release of Hamas activists still in prison. Egypt has already released 34 Hamas activists but Hamas says a few more are still in custody.

In another development, a Palestinian was killed and another severely injured when a tunnel between Gaza and Egypt collapsed on them.

Donkey meat

TWO butchers have been arrested for allegedly passing off the carcasses of donkeys, cats and dogs as edible beef. Mohamed Khalifa, 35, was caught butchering a donkey he had found by the roadside in a street in the densely packed Cairo district of Boulaq Al-Dakrour. Khalifa confessed to collecting carcasses from around Cairo and selling their meat to another butcher, Wasfi Sawiris, at LE5 a kilogramme. Sawiris, 53, then allegedly ground the meat up with spices to hide the taste before selling it to local restaurants.

It was not clear how long the men had been plying their trade. More than 1,700 kilos of meat, mostly donkey, were found in Sawiris's shop, which also included cat, dog and horse meat.

Refusing displacement

TWENTY-FIVE Luxor residents have been arrested and are being interrogated for their involvement in clashes with police during a protest against government attempts to move the group from their homes to make room for an open-air museum.

During a violent demonstration on Friday in the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor, police allegedly prevented hundreds of protesters from entering the Karnak Temple.

The protesters reportedly hurled stones at police, who responded by firing tear gas and arresting several of the demonstrators.

Many of the residents who are to be displaced under the new museum plan have refused government offers of compensation and temporary housing. Some complain the money is insufficient while others simply do not want to move.

Highway horror

ELEVEN members of a single family were killed and 16 others were seriously injured on Saturday in a road accident.

The vehicle carrying the victims was driving at high speed on the highway linking Cairo and the northern port city of Alexandria when it collided with two oncoming trucks.

On 16 March 23 people, among them 21 police officers, died in a head-on collision between a police truck and another lorry.

Egypt's roads are among the world's most dangerous. Each year about 6,000 people die and 30,000 are injured in road accidents.

Bad cookies

ALMOST 300 primary students from four schools were hospitalised after eating a school meal that included a suspected batch of spoilt cookies, Reem Leila reports.

Of the 273 students admitted to Al-Ameryah public hospital in Alexandria, 259 were released after having had their stomachs pumped out. The remaining 14 students were kept for one more day for observation, their condition being more serious than the others. According to the official spokesman at the Ministry of Health and Population Abdel-Rahman Shahin, the age of the students ranged from seven to 12 and were from four government schools. Sample of the cookies as well as the purgation remnants have been sent to the ministry's central laboratories for analysis. "Not all the students suffered food poisoning," Shahin said. "Many of them were complaining about stomach aches and thought they had been poisoned."

If the expiry date of the cookie samples has elapsed, those responsible for delivering the cookies will be transferred to the general prosecution. Among distraught parents of the students were calls for the termination of school meals.

This is not the first incident of poisoning among primary school students. Earlier this year more than 100 students were poisoned. In November 2006, hundreds of students suffered food poisoning. In 2004, more than 300 students were admitted to hospital after vomiting. In 1998, nearly 2,000 pupils in seven governorates became sick. In all the incidents, the children fell ill after eating school lunch.

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