Top News: UN Chief Discusses Gaza Crisis with Sisi; Egypt Opens Rafah Border Crossing

President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi discussed the situation in Gaza with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Wednesday. Sisi and Ban Ki-moon agreed to work to prevent the situation from escalating and causing more loss of life, a statement from the Egyptian presidency said. On Thursday, Egyptian authorities announced they would open the crossing to allow Egyptian hospitals to treat casualties from Gaza.


Justice ministry preparing new laws to control price hikes
Justice Minister Mahfouz Saber said the ministry is preparing new draft laws to control price hikes. “The laws would soon be enacted once approved by Cabinet and by the president,” he said, declining to comment on the nature of those draft laws. Sources said the Ministers of Planning, Supply, Industry, Trade and Solidarity are formulating proposals in this regard. [Egypt Independent, 7/9/2014]

Sisi issues decree increasing military pensions by 10 percent
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Thursday issued a decree increasing military pensions by 10 percent. The new law, which was reviewed by the State Council and approved by the cabinet, will take effect retroactively as of the beginning of July. [Shorouk (Arabic), 7/10/2014]

Also of Interest:
Mahlab urges committee to protect workers when seizing Brotherhood companies | Mada Masr
Education minister under scrutiny in forced labor case | Mada Masr


Nineteen Brotherhood members arrested in Damietta on ‘terrorist cell’ charges
The Damietta Public Prosecutor ordered on Wednesday 19 members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood remanded into custody for 15 days on on charges of forming a terrorist cell in the governorate. During their arrest, authorities confiscated laptops and flyers that they allege contained instructions to carry out terrorist acts. In related news, the Suez Public Prosecutor ordered on Thursday, 11 Brotherhood members remanded into custody for 15 days on charges of participating in violence. Meanwhile, in Assiut, a criminal court sentenced six Muslim Brotherhood supporters to three years in jail on several charges including rioting. [Egypt Independent, 7/10/2014]

Also of Interest:
Two men sentenced to six months prison for sexual harassment | Egypt Independent
Beltagy, Hegazy trial on charges of torturing lawyer resumes | EGYNews (Arabic)


Egypt’s domestic debt up to EGP 1.7 trillion
Egypt’s gross domestic debt reached 83 percent of the country’s GDP in March, according to the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) June statistical bulletin. Public debt climbed to EGP 1.7 trillion at the end of last March, up from EGP 1.65 trillion in December 2013 and EGP 1.46 trillion in March 2013. [Ahram Online, 7/9/2014]

Also of Interest:
World Bank negotiating $500 million loan for gas delivery to homes | DNE
Egypt sees 21 percent fewer tourists in May | Ahram Online
Egypt’s supply ministry says has enough wheat to last for six months | Reuters
Egypt’s stocks continue rise as foreign investors increase buyouts | Ahram Online
Rise in Egyptian food prices due to subsidy cut: FAO | DNE
‘Long Live Egypt Fund’ receives over EGP 400 million in donations | DNE
Non-oil exports hit $11.8 billion since beginning of 2014 | DNE
Strengthening Saudi-Egypt ties reflected in increased exports | DNE, SIS
Egypt annual core inflation slows to 8.76 percent in June | Reuters


Twenty-nine NGOs protest new civil society draft law
Twenty-nine NGOs have rejected a new bill that allows government interference in their affairs and poses “unconstitutional” restrictions. The NGOs signed and issued a statement on Wednesday, listing the reasons for refusing the bill put forth by the ministry of social solidarity. Among the NGOs that signed the statement are the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights. “The bill is a [blatant] violation of the constitution and Egypt’s international commitments,” said the statement. In their statement, the NGOs said they reject the law because it “allows the administrative authority to severely interfere with the NGOs’ affairs, objecting and cancelling their decisions, and ignoring their independence”. The law also expands potential grounds for the legal dissolution of NGOs, such as failure to achieve their goals, they added. [DNE, Egypt Independent, 7/9/2014]

Mohamed Soltan’s trial postponed to August 3; Forensic report shows pulmonary embolism
Cairo Criminal Court postponed Tuesday the ‘Raba’a Operations Room’ trial involving Egyptian-American hunger-striking political detainee Mohamed Soltan and other high profile Muslim Brotherhood members to August 3. Fixer and former press liaison for the Muslim Brotherhood Soltan, was arrested last summer during the pro-Morsi Raba’a sit-in’s violent dispersal. He has been on hunger strike for over 160 days in protest over his detention. According to state run Al-Ahram, the court received Soltan’s health report during the hearing from the forensic medicine department. The report asserted the defendant suffers from a pulmonary embolism, as well as high blood pressure, low blood sugar, and high uric acid. The court ordered Soltan, son of prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader Salah Soltan, to receive medical care in the prison’s hospital, under the supervision of the prosecution. [DNE, 7/9/2014]


Egyptian soldier killed, five wounded in Sinai bombing
An Egyptian soldier was killed Wednesday when a roadside bomb targeted an armored vehicle in the restive Sinai Peninsula, medical and security officials said. Four soldiers were also wounded in the attack near the north Sinai capital of al-Arish, the officials said. The blast occurred after an armored tank drove over an explosive device, security sources Reuters. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Reuters, EGYNews (Arabic), 7/9/2014]

State-appointed body finds no evidence of rape at women’s prison
A delegation from the National Council for Human Rights, whose members are appointed by the government, paid a visit on Monday to al-Qanater women’s prison following allegations that Muslim Brotherhood detainees have been tortured and raped. According to the members of the delegation, the Brotherhood women prisoners said they were not subjected to any kind of rape but were physically assaulted by criminal inmates and prison warders in June. Women activists arrested and detained last month during an anti-protest law rally to the presidential palace, including activist Sanaa Seif and human rights lawyer Yara Sallam, refused to meet the delegation. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 7/9/2014]

Also of Interest:
MOI rejects claims of violence at Wadi al-Natrun Prison | DNE, Mada Masr


UN chief discusses Gaza crisis with Sisi; Egypt opens Rafah border crossing
President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi discussed the situation in Gaza with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Wednesday. Sisi and Ban Ki-moon agreed to work to prevent the situation from escalating and causing more loss of life, a statement from the Egyptian presidency said. The UN chief also said he urged the Egyptian president, the rulers of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, US Secretary of State John Kerry and others to press the Israelis and Palestinians to return to their November 2012 cease-fire agreement and resume peace negotiations.  The UN chief called on the government of Egypt to urgently open its Rafah crossing for humanitarian purposes, to help alleviate the suffering in Gaza. On Thursday, Egyptian authorities announced they would open the crossing to allow Egyptian hospitals to treat casualties from Gaza. The statement, made through the Palestinian embassy in Egypt, would only let wounded Palestinians through the crossing. Authorities briefly postponed the opening of the land crossing after Israeli planes struck an ambulance carrying casualties close to the crossing. The ambulance was transporting injured Palestinians to Arish Hospital in North Sinai. The first two injured cases from Gaza have since arrived through the Rafah border crossing, according to Mada Masr, while Shorouk reports that at least 66 Egyptians stranded in the Gaza Strip have returned to Egypt.  [Ahram Online, DNE, AP, Aswat Masriya, EGYNews (Arabic), 7/10/2014]

Egypt claims to receive invite that White House says it hasn’t sent
US President Barack Obama has invited Egypt’s president to the first ever US-Africa Leaders Summit next month despite lingering concerns about the country’s human-rights record, according to Al-Monitor. Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi received a written invitation from the US president earlier this week, an Egyptian official said. A US source confirmed that Egypt had been invited, even as the White House continued to publicly assert that it had yet to make up its mind. “They have invited Egypt already,” the Egyptian official told Al-Monitor. Obama’s National Security Council, however, insisted Wednesday that no decision had been made, an indication of how controversial the decision remains. [Al-Monitor, 7/9/2014]

Also of Interest:
Gaza support will be decided on national security priorities | Ahram Online
Armed Forces: Decision to keep Rafah crossing closed is political | Mada Masr
Shoukry visits Kuwaiti counterpart before trip to Baghdad | DNE
Egypt strikes agreement with US pharmaceutical company to acquire Hep C pills | Ahram Online
Emir of Kuwait: We will stand by Egypt | Egypt Independent