Israeli Diplomats Airlifted Out Of Cairo After Protesters Storm Embassy
Thousands of protesters descended on the Israeli embassy in Egypt early Saturday morning, forcing diplomats inside to flee the country. The Washington Post quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the uprising a "gross violation of international norms."
The Post reported:
“The rioters were literally a door away” from the security guards, said one Israeli official, who spoke anonymously in order to talk freely. “There was very real concern for their safety and their lives. The prime minister spoke to them directly because he moved during the night to a situation room in the Foreign Ministry, where there is a direct link to the embassy. It was a very grave incident, and we were very concerned that it was going to get worse.”
One diplomat in Cairo spoke of concerns for the security of other embassies.
“When you wind up with the whole mission fleeing the country, that’s a very bad situation,” said one Western diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss internal deliberations. “I’m sure all embassies will be discussing evacuation plans now. You storm one embassy, that makes everybody nervous."
Saturday's attack is telling of the deteriorating relationship between Israel and its closest Arab ally, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The demonstrations against Israel coincide with increasing discontent among Egyptians with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took control of the country when Mubarak was forced out on Feb. 11 after nearly three decades in power.
Estimates of those injured have reached 1,000; Egypt's deputy health minister reported that at least three people were killed in the attack. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has reached out to the U.S. to step in and protect the embassy.
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