Home News Who is the Egyptian tycoon accused of forcing Palestinians to flee Gaza?

Who is the Egyptian tycoon accused of forcing Palestinians to flee Gaza?

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He is an Egyptian tycoon but little known outside Egypt.

The tycoon, Ibrahim Al Organi, chairman of the Organi Group, oversees a sprawling network of companies in construction, real estate and security. He has close ties to senior Egyptian officials, according to three people who have been tracking the relationship and spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their work in the region.

But it is Harrah, which Mr. Ojani lists as one of its companies, that has come under the most scrutiny. Harrah has become a lifeline for Palestinians trying to flee the war-torn Gaza Strip, but has also been accused of exploiting desperate people with exorbitant fees. In an interview this month, Mr. Ojani detailed Harrah’s activities but said he had a limited role in the company and was just one of many shareholders.

Officials at the Harrah Project did not respond to emailed questions.

Hala has long been listed on Organi Group’s website as one of the group’s companies, but appears to have recently removed that information. Organi Group has not yet responded to a request for comment on why Hala was removed from its website.

The Organi Group includes at least eight companies. Mr. Organi is the chairman of the company and his son Essameldin Organi is the CEO.

According to the company’s website, the elder Mr. Oghani has built “a diversified business empire that has become an integral pillar of the Egyptian economy in countless sectors.”

In an interview at his Cairo office, Oghani described Hala as a travel company “like any airport company.” He said the company was founded in 2017 to provide VIP services to Palestinian travelers who wanted an upgraded experience while traveling through Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city.

Hala charged most Gazans over 16 $5,000 and most under 16 half that ($2,500) to coordinate their evacuations, according to people who paid for the service during the war. They also said Hala did not offer VIP services.

Mr Oganyi said Hala charges $2,500 per adult, while children are free.

Mr. Oghani was born in 1974 in Sheikh Zuweid, an Egyptian border town near Gaza.

He said he was only a shareholder or partner in companies doing business in Gaza. But in the interview, he said his company played a key role in rebuilding Gaza, including clearing rubble, after the last round of war between Israel and Hamas in 2021.

His Instagram account has posted several videos showing excavators clearing destroyed buildings in Gaza City in 2021. Text beneath many of the videos states that the work was being carried out “on the instructions of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.”

Mr. Oganyi also leases trucks to help groups deliver supplies to the area and purchases some of these supplies.

Weeks after the war was sparked by a Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7, Mr. Oghani appeared at the Egypt-Gaza border to pledge support for the Palestinians in Gaza.

“We will not hesitate. They are our brothers,” he said in remarks broadcast by Egyptian news media.

Mr. Oganyi also said he was in talks about the possibility of taking part in Gaza’s post-war reconstruction.

Mr. Oghani maintained close ties with members of the Egyptian government, using his influence to advance his business interests, according to two diplomats familiar with the matter.

He rose to fame in the 2010s, when he was already a well-known businessman in the Sinai Peninsula. Working with the Egyptian military to fight militants People in the Peninsula who claim to be linked to the Islamic State.

In the interview, Mr. Oghani said he had led the Sinai Tribal Union, a government-backed group tasked with helping fight militants on the peninsula.

“God helped us to reunite the tribes under the banner of the alliance and made me the chief,” he said. “We decided to help the government to completely eliminate the terrorist group.”

In 2022, Sisi appointed Oghani as one of two non-governmental members of the Sinai Development Authority, which is responsible for the peninsula’s development plans. Oghani recently announced that he would build a city in Sinai named after Sisi together with other tribal figures.

He said that did not mean he had a special relationship with the president and that there were others involved.

“It’s well known that we strongly support President Sisi and we love him,” Mr. Oganyi said, “but that’s not to say that we are the only ones supporting him.”

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