News / Middle East

Israel Reacts Strongly to Cairo Embassy Attack

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (file photo)
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (file photo)
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack on the Cairo Embassy a blatant violation of international norms that severely harms peaceful relations with Israel.  However, his aides say he also thanked Egypt for its commandos' rescue of six Israelis trapped inside the embassy during the attack.

Netanyahu has expressed relief that no Israelis were killed and that two Israeli air force planes brought the ambassador and about 80 embassy staff and families members safely back to Israel.

The incident reinforces one of Israel's deepest fears since the Egyptian Revolution: that anti-Israel sentiment would spill onto the streets and harm the 32-year-old peace treaty between the two countries. Relations took a turn for the worse last month following a deadly border clash that sparked outrage in Egypt. Israeli troops killed five Egyptian policemen while pursuing Palestinian gunmen who crossed into Israel from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and killed eight Israelis.

Zvi Mazel, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, says the Egyptian mood had turned anti-Israeli before the border incident.

Mazel told Israel Radio the only thing that has united the fractious political groups and parties in Egypt since the revolution is hostility toward Israel.

He said factions are vying for power, security has collapsed, and Israel is a "scapegoat" for the "anarchy" that is sweeping Egypt.

Israel sees the peace treaty as a strategic asset, but in the wake of the embassy attack, concern is growing about what will happen after the Egyptian elections.  Israeli officials fear that if the radical Muslim Brotherhood makes a strong showing in the vote, Egypt will annul the two countries' peace agreement.


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