Awwwww: Activists heading to Gaza stuck at Cairo airport

Egyptian army soldiers seen in a watchtower on the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip, July 2013

(AP) — More than 40 women on their way to Gaza as part of a delegation for World Women’s Day are staging a sit-in inside the Cairo International Airport after being refused entry into the country since Tuesday, airport officials in Egypt and activists said Thursday.

Among the participants from the US-based anti-war group Code Pink’s delegation are US, French and Belgian citizens.

Ann Wright, the US delegation’s organizer, said Thursday that a few activists have elected to return home, while at least three activists had been deported, including Mairead Maguire, a 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Medea Benjamin, an American activist, said Egyptian police fractured her shoulder when she refused to board a plane to Turkey.

Wright said the group had planned to take a bus from Cairo to the Rafa crossing and walk across the border. Egypt’s border with Gaza has been closed since last month as authorities combat smuggling and Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula. Relations between Egypt and Gaza also remain tense after the military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July.

On Tuesday, an Egyptian court banned all activities of the Palestinian militant group Hamas and ordered the closure of any Hamas offices.