The Egyptian Foreign Ministry is engaged in talks with Israeli officials to prevent Israel from taking down a memorial in the West Bank village of Beit Lakia, state media reported Sunday.
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Last July, Egypt's Ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Yasser Othman inaugurated the memorial together with Fatah officials. He recently confirmed that there are negotiations with Israel on the matter and that he is working on orders from the Egyptian foreign minister.
"According to the testimonies of nearby residents, the bodies of 10 Egyptian soldiers are buried where the monument is placed," Othman said. Arab media reported that on December 12,IDF forces entered Beit Lakia and informed the residents that the memorial as well as other structures will be taken down. The report said that the reason for the demolition is unlicensed construction.
Hamas also responded to the report. Earlier this week, Hamas Politburo member Izzat al-Rishak tweeted that "the Zionist occupation's intent to destroy the Egyptian soldiers' memorial is a desperate attempt to wipe away Palestinian and Arab memories. These attempts will fail. Egypt will remain in our hearts."
A protest against the planned demolition was held in the village on Sunday. Said Yakin, an activist against the separation fence and settlements said he did not understand why Israel would want to take down the memorial seeing as it was not built on disputed area.
"This issue hurts us as Arabs and that's why we built this memorial. We didn't do it in Herzliya or Ramat Aviv. It's just a memorial, not a military post," he said. Yakin speculated that Israel fears the monument will become a pilgrimage site attracting Palestinians and Arabs.
The unit for government activities in the territories confirmed that Israel has been approached by Egypt following an order to stop monument construction work and stated that the parties are engaged in talks on the matter. It was also stated that the memorial will not be taken down at this stage.
Elior Levy contributed to this report
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