CAIRO, (Reuters) – Egyptian police raided the homes of Muslim Brotherhood members in the Nile Delta on Thursday and took away at least 21 members of the Islamist opposition group, the Brotherhood and police sources said.
The latest arrests, in Sharkia province northeast of Cairo and Kafr el-Sheikh province on the Mediterranean coast, were in response to the Brotherhood’s campaign against the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip, the sources said. They bring to about 240 the number of Brotherhood members in detention, mostly without trial or charges, said one Brotherhood official, who asked not to be named.
The Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition group, has historical and ideological links with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which has been running Gaza since June 2007.
It has been leading a broad campaign against the blockade, which Israel says is meant to prevent Hamas acquiring weapons.
Egypt says it is respecting a 2005 agreement linked to Israel’s military withdrawal from the coastal strip.
The Brotherhood official said the members detained in Sharkia on Thursday had been helping organise convoys to take food and medicines to Gaza. Three are pharmacists, the official said.
Egyptian police have turned back all the convoys before they reached the Gaza border.
On Wednesday, Egyptian authorities remanded in custody for an initial 15 days a senior Brotherhood member who had been collecting donations to help the Gaza Palestinians.