Egypt Withdraws Ambassador to Israel Following Shootings

Posted August 20th, 2011 at 2:45 am (UTC-5)
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Egypt is withdrawing its ambassador to Israel to protest the deaths of Egyptian security forces during Israel's retaliatory attacks against militants along the nations' shared border.

The Egyptian Cabinet said is withdrawing its ambassador until the results of an Israeli investigation into the incident are provided. The Cabinet said it also wants the Israeli leadership to apologize for what it described as “hasty” remarks about Egypt.

Egypt lodged a formal protest against Israel on Friday, saying five members of its security forces were killed during the Israeli attacks. There have been conflicting reports as to how they died.

Egypt's official news agency reported that Israeli forces shot the Egyptians while going after gunmen who killed eight Israelis in an ambush Thursday across the border in southern Israel.

Hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the Israeli embassy in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, Friday, calling for the Israeli ambassador to be expelled because of the killings.

Retaliatory violence escalated between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip late Friday, as Israeli airstrikes continued and Palestinians fired rockets back into Israel. Israeli strikes have killed at least 12 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them militants.

Meanwhile, a military wing of the militant group Hamas declared Friday that it is ending a de facto two-year truce with Israel. Hamas controls the Palestinian government in Gaza.

The Israeli military said the gunmen behind Thursday's attacks came from Gaza and crossed into southern Israel through Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

Israel has expressed concern about a deterioration of security in the Sinai since Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak resigned in February. Last week, Egypt moved additional forces to the region in an effort to improve the situation.

Israeli forces responded to Thursday's ambush with ground assaults and airstrikes that killed nine people. The dead included at least four members of the Popular Resistance Committees, an armed Palestinian group that Israel blamed for the attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a televised address Thursday that anyone who attacks Israel will pay what he called a “very heavy price.” Defense Secretary Ehud Barak called the assaults a grave terrorist incident.