Saturday, September 10, 2011

Egyptians storm Israeli embassy; Israeli diplomats flee Egypt

On Friday afternoon, after a rally in Tahrir Square, Egyptians began attempting to break down the wall protecting the Israeli embassy in Cairo. By midnight the mob had broken through the wall and entered the building housing the embassy on the top floors. An hour later there were reports of embassy documents falling from the windows of the top floor, evidently indicating the mob had managed to gain access to the embassy offices.

At 2 a.m. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak reported that Israel had appealed to the U.S. for help in guarding its embassy, after Netanyahu's calls to Tantawi went unanswered. At 2:30 a.m. the White House issued a statement that the U.S. is concerned over the storming of the embassy and is taking the necessary steps to prevent further violence. Soon after, the Israeli ambassador and his staff arrived at the airport in Cairo.

At 8:30 p.m. Israel time on Saturday, Netanyahu held a press conference in which he personally thanked Obama for calling Tantawi and ordering the Egyptian military to intervene and ensure the security of Israeli embassy staff. Netanyahu confirmed that it was the Egyptian commando which in the end stood between the mob and Israeli personnel--on Obama's orders.

This Shabbat, a major crisis was closely averted. 

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