Egypt Blames Muslim Brotherhood for Cairo Shooting Attack on Israeli Tourists

Israeli Arab tour organizer whose bus was caught in crossfire says the Egyptian police's gunfire led the attackers to shoot at the bus.

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Police are seen at the scene where gunmen attacked a tourist bus in front of a hotel in Cairo on January 7th.
Police are seen at the scene where gunmen attacked a tourist bus in front of a hotel in Cairo on January 7th. Credit: Reuters
Noa Shpigel
Jack Khoury

Egyptian security forces announced over the weekend that they were continuing to investigate the shooting incident last Thursday in Cairo, in which gunmen opened fire on Israeli tourists as they boarded a bus in Cairo.

There were no casualties in the shooting, which took place at the Three Pyramids Hotel, on a road leading to the Giza pyramids southwest of the capital. The tourists boarding the bus were Israeli Arabs.

Security forces arrested five activists in the Muslim Brotherhood movement for their involvement in the shooting incident, said the al-Youm al-Saba’a website, quoting an Egyptian defense official. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood were responsible for the attack, he said.

The Russian government-funded television station RT reported that the Wilayat Sinai organization affiliated with the Islamic State took responsibility for the shooting attack, and for the explosion of the natural gas pipeline in the El-Arish area in the northern Sinai on Friday morning. But the Egyptian security services said they had doubts concerning the claims of responsibility for the shooting attack.

The Israeli Arab tourists involved in the incident returned to Israel over the weekend. The organizer of the trip, Bassem Mahamid, who was with the group at the time, told Haaretz what happened.

“We were standing at the entrance of the Three Pyramids Hotel and preparing to get on the bus, and we began hearing the sounds of shooting," he said. "We didn’t know where it was coming from. And then the Egyptian police responded with shooting towards the group which included masked men holding fireworks and firebombs. When the Egyptian police responded with gunfire they began to shoot at the bus and [threw] fireworks at the hotel; there were people who shouted at them [we are] Arabs,” said Mahamid.

The incident did not start out as a shooting directed at the bus, he said, and added that it was rather the response of the Egyptian police and their gunfire that brought about the confrontation and led to the shooting at the bus and hotel.

A young woman who was on the bus said one of the masked men tried to get onto the bus. But after seeing that there were only women on the bus and after someone screamed at him that they were Arabs, he stopped trying to firebomb the bus.

Two security guards later boarded the bus, which was also escorted by police vehicles as it left the hotel, said Mahamid. This shows there were fears the bus would be attacked on its way back to Israel via the Taba border crossing near Eilat, he said.

On Friday two armed assailants attacked a hotel in Egypt’s Red Sea resort town of Hurgada, wounding three foreign tourists. The Interior Ministry said that one of the attackers was a student from Giza.

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