Israeli diplomats flee Cairo after attack on embassy
3 protesters killed
Cairo, Sep 10: Israeli ambassador to Egypt and the embassy staff were Saturday waiting at the Cairo international airport for an Israeli military plane to whisk them away to Tel Aviv after an attack on the embassy building, Al Jazeera reported.
A group of protesters breached early Saturday multiple floors of a high-rise building housing the Israeli embassy.
A senior Egyptian official says at least three people died and more than 1,000 were hurt during street clashes with police and army troops after an angry mob attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo.
Al-Jazeera aired a video footage showing Israeli mission documents being thrown out of the windows as the demonstrators reportedly broke into the embassy's archives.
Deputy Health Minister Hamid Abaza say one of the three fatalities in the violence late Friday was a man who died of a heart attack.
Abaza told The Associated Press on Saturday he doesn’t know the cause of the other two deaths. He says at least 1,093 people were injured in the clashes.
The protesters pelted the police and the military with rocks, prompting the troops to fire tear gas and shoot into the air. Only 38 of the injured remained in hospital.
Earlier, the protesters tore down a security wall outside the Israeli mission and stormed the embassy’s offices.
While the commandos rescued some of the embassy staff, Israeli news portal 'Ynetnews' said Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon and 80 other members of the diplomatic staff had been sneaked out of Cairo in a secret operation, without giving details. They were airlifted by a special Israeli Air Force plane.
Egypt's military-led interim government declared a state of high alert after the attack.
Protesters torched police trucks and attacked the regional police headquarters after the army intervened to disperse the violent mob who barged into the building housing the Israeli embassy, dumping hundreds of documents out of the windows, tore down the Israeli flag and threw it away.
The attack on the Israeli embassy was the worst since the Jewish state established its mission in Cairo after signing a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979.
The attack on the Israeli embassy came after a sermon by a Muslim priest at the iconic Tahrir Square on Friday.
The priest proclaimed, "It would be shame on the Egyptian people if they forget their revolution."
Egypt's Interior Minister Mansour al-Eissawy declared a state of high alert and the government convened an emergency session to deal with the crisis.
The state TV reported that before leaving Cairo, Israeli ambassador Levanon met with the top General of the ruling military junta and appeared "anxious and even scared". Levanon had recently returned to Cairo from vacations in Israel as protests raged outside the embassy for the past one month.
US President Barack Obama spoke over phone to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the white House said.
"President Obama expressed his great concern about the situation at the Embassy, and the security of the Israelis serving there," it said in a statement.
Hours after violence broke out, Egyptian troops and armoured cars marched in to cordon off the entire district housing the Israeli
Embassy. The army intervention came after police reinforcements failed to disperse the mobs.
Thousands crowding outside the besieged embassy jostled to grab the documents thrown outside the building. The documents in Arabic, English and Hebrew bore the watermarks of the embassy.
Egyptians have been staging mass protests outside the embassy and calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador for almost a month following the border deaths of five Egyptian policemen accidentally killed Aug 18 as an Israeli helicopter hunted a group of militants near the Egyptian border.
Egypt has asked Israel for an official apology and demanded a probe into the deaths of the policemen.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 10 Sep 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 10 Sep 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 11 Sep 2011 00:00:00 IST
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