Fearing he could become a 'martyr', Egypt bans public funeral for soldier 'who killed three Israelis'
Tensions flared in Cairo as Egyptian authorities imposed a ban on activists and family members holding a public funeral for Mohamed Salah, a conscript whose alleged involvement in the killing of three Israeli soldiers has strained Egyptian-Israeli relations.
The Egyptian authorities banned Tuesday evening activists and family members of Egyptian conscript Mohamed Salah from conducting a public funeral outside the deceased home in the capital Cairo, fearing he could be treated as a 'martyr'.
Salah, a security force member serving along the Egyptian border with Israel, is believed to be involved in killing three Israeli soldiers after he entered Israel's territories and was killed during an exchange of fire on Saturday.
On Tuesday, security forces cordoned off roads leading to the deceased's home in the middle-class neighbourhood of Ain Shams, north-east of Cairo, and policemen were deployed around the house.
Witnesses told The New Arab that "pro-Palestine activists and members of opposition groups who had attempted to reach the site through the nearby underground metro station were hunted down by security forces and forced to back off."
Several correspondents working for the office of a European news agency in Cairo managed to reach the house and spoke with family members.
"But shortly afterwards, the reporters were briefly detained and questioned by state security officers at the local police station before they were warned and allowed to leave empty-handed," a security source told TNA on condition of anonymity.
Intensive security presence in the area persists, intending to restrict any possible public gatherings for mourning Salah, according to witnesses.
Earlier on Monday, Salah had been given a low-profile burial in his home village of Al-Amar Al-Kubra in Egypt's Al-Qalyubia province north of Cairo. The funeral was attended only by Salah's brother and uncle, who were previously interrogated by Egyptian authorities.
Preliminary reports into an ongoing investigation suggested that Salah cut through the border fence and penetrated 1km inside Israeli territory, carrying ammunition and knives for a "planned attack", according to Israeli claims.
While Salah has been referred to by the Israeli media and government as "an assailant," "terrorist" or "gunman," Egyptian and Arab social media activists and several journalists, even those loyal to the regime, have described him as a "hero" and "martyr."
Late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat normalised relations with Israel in the 1970s. At the diplomatic level, Egypt treats Israel as a friendly country with strong ties in different fields, particularly security and economy.
Nevertheless, the Egyptian people have been at loggerheads with Egypt's successive regimes over normalisation, as many consider Israel a coloniser of Palestine since the 1948 war, an oppressor of the Palestinian people and a former occupier of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.