Egypt Independent: News-Main news en EU gives Cairo annual donation of 1 billion euros <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Alongside efforts to boost Egypt&#39;s green energy sector, the European Union is helping Cairo achieve ambitious goals through providing annual donations estimated at 1 billion euros, said Ambassador James Moran, head of the European Union delegation to Egypt.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the conference entitled &lsquo;Chances and Challenges of Energy in Egypt&rsquo;, organized by the Italian Chamber of Commerce, Moran stressed that the European Union is a strong partner with Egypt and is helping Egypt lay out a strategy for its energy model.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Renewable energy used to be prohibitively costly and inaccessible, Moran said, but developments in technology will allow green energy to provide new chances in many fields and will create jobs.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Moran declared a main plan in Cairo over investments and technologies used in the energy field.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Meanwhile, Italian Ambassador to Cairo Maurizio Massari said the President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi&rsquo;s recent visit to Rome revived the Egyptian-Italian council and boosted bilateral ties.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The goal behind the conference, according to Massari, was to acknowledge the demand and supply and create a good atmosphere for investing in Egypt.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></div> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:48:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2440619 at sites/default/files/photo/2013/06/11/107181/ambassador_james_moran_head_of_delegation_of_the_european_union_to_egypt..jpg Police officer, 3 soldiers injured in Sharqiya blast <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>A police officer and three soldiers were injured on Friday in a bomb blast in the Soares area near Abu Kabir Police Station in Sharqiya.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Security sources and eyewitnesses said that a police officer, two Central Security Forces officers and a soldier were injured as unidentified assailants threw a bomb from the rooftop of a building near the police station of Abu Kabir.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The injured were transferred to hospital. A claim was filed with the incident and the prosecution took over investigations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:38:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2440624 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/09/26/484151/251929_0.jpg Egypt crackdown adds to Gaza blockade woes <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p id="yui_3_9_1_1_1417175563630_1005">Already struggling under the weight of an Israeli blockade, Gazans are now feeling the effects of an Egyptian exclusion zone along their shared border that has sent prices soaring.</p><p>After the cost of his cigarettes nearly tripled, 18-year-old Jihad Ahmed now buys just a few at a time instead of a pack and smokes them sparingly.</p><p>Imad Shalbiya, who sold them to him, said Egypt&#39;s crackdown on cross-border smuggling tunnels was behind the price hike.</p><p>&quot;The tunnels from Egypt have been closed, hitting stocks of cigarettes in Gaza hard and sending prices soaring,&quot; he told AFP.</p><p>Israel first imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2006 after militants there snatched one of its soldiers.</p><p>It was tightened significantly a year later when the Islamist movement Hamas seized control of the territory, which is home to 1.8 million people.</p><p>But some relief came through a honeycomb of tunnels from Egypt that brought in a wide range of consumer goods, livestock, fuel, as well as arms and money for militant groups.</p><p>Smuggling of building materials alone was worth more than one billion euros annually, according to Ayman Abed of the economy ministry in Gaza.</p><p>But the Egyptian military, which began a process of shutting down the tunnels after it overthrow Islamist president Mohamed Morsy in July 2013, stepped up its activity significantly in late October after militants in northern Sinai killed some 30 Egyptian soldiers.</p><p>Since then, it has been demolishing houses along the border to build a buffer zone in a region that has been rocked by insurgency since Morsy&#39;s ouster.</p><p>So far, Egypt has destroyed 1,600 tunnels. In late October it also closed the Rafah border crossing, Gaza&#39;s only gateway to the world not controlled by Israel.</p><p>&quot;Prices are very high since Egypt completely closed the tunnels,&quot; said Abu Mohammed, who owns a small supermarket west of Gaza City, noting hikes in the price of &quot;milk, legumes and even cheese.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We used to sell Egyptian cheese for 10 or 11 shekels; now it is more than 23 (about US$6 or nearly 5 euros). I don&#39;t sell it anymore. No one buy it at this price.&quot;</p><p id="yui_3_9_1_1_1417175563630_1028">And Mohammed Safi, who owns an electronics shop, said: &quot;Prices of mobiles are higher since the blockade of tunnels. We can&#39;t get them as before. We used to sell iPhone 5s for 2,200 shekels, now the price is 2,600.&quot;</p><p><strong>&#39;Disastrous situation&#39;&nbsp;</strong></p><p id="yui_3_9_1_1_1417175563630_1030">Products entering from Israel are far more expensive than those originating in Egypt, and largely beyond the means of the average Palestinian in the crowded coastal territory, where youth unemployment is running at 63 percent.</p><p>Oxfam says more than 40 percent of the overall population is jobless and that 80 percent live on humanitarian aid.</p><p>The lack of cement and gravel to feed the construction industry accounts for 35,000 of Gaza&#39;s unemployed, Abed of the economy ministry said.</p><p>During last summer&#39;s war with Israel, UN figures show that around 20,000 housing units, or nearly six percent of the housing stock, were severely damaged or destroyed. That resulted in more than 100,000 internally displaced persons.</p><p>Tens of thousands of other homes were damaged in the conflict and are still awaiting repairs and renovation.</p><p>But since fighting ended on 26 August, only 1,300 tonnes of building materials have crossed into the Strip, Palestinian officials say.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s not enough to put up a single building,&quot; according to Gaza builders&#39; merchant Suheil Tuman.</p><p>When distributed through the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), a 50 kilogramme sack of cement sells for 5.50 euros. But the price is 42 euros on the black market.</p><p>&quot;When the tunnels were open, a tonne of cement sold for 380 shekels (80 euros) on the black market,&quot; Tuman said. &quot;Today it is 3,800 shekels.&quot;</p><p>Economist Amr Shaabane said the economic situation &quot;is literally disastrous. It has never been this bad in Gaza.&quot;</p><p>The reasons? &quot;The blockade, poverty, unemployment, the trickle of goods entering and soaring prices.&quot;</p><p>In the past, Gaza prices had always been far lower than in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.</p><p id="yui_3_9_1_1_1417175563630_1094">&quot;Today, Gaza market stalls offer Israeli goods at a price that is more expensive to begin with and to which heavy taxes are added on their entry to Gaza,&quot; the economist said.</p> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 11:58:00 +0000 AFP 2440618 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/11/28/499612/egypt_crackdown_adds_to_gaza_blockade_woes.jpg Sisi vows to protect Egypt's Coptic Christians <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi vowed to protect Egypt&#39;s Coptic Christians, saying that assaults against them is unacceptable.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In an interview published on Friday in the French newspaper&nbsp;<em>Le Figaro</em>&nbsp;on Friday, Sisi said it cannot be denied that some Salafis burnt Coptic churches, but they were not alone who did so. He indicated that Islam orders caring for Christians.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sisi also said that the new constitution guarantees right for Copts to perform their rituals freely, adding that there will be no more tolerance with further attacks or forms of violence.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>We want to establish our new Egypt within our principles of tolerance and aspirations of the youth, which according to Sisi sparked the uprisings on 25 January 2011 and 30 June 2013.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from MENA</em></div> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 MENA 2440608 at sites/default/files/photo/2013/12/20/484151/copts.jpg