Egypt on High Alert After Israeli Embassy Violence

Posted September 10th, 2011 at 6:35 am (UTC-5)
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Egypt's security forces are on high alert Saturday following a night of violence in which protesters raided the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.

The Egyptian government also is holding a crisis meeting about the incident.

Protesters converged on the embassy Friday, tearing down sections of the graffiti-covered security wall. After entering the building, some protesters threw embassy documents outside on to the crowd. Egyptian security forces at the scene made no attempt to intervene.

However, the Egyptian government said at least three people were killed in clashes later that night between protesters and the police. Officials attribute one of the fatalities to a heart attack. They also say more than 1,000 people were wounded in the violence.

The assault on the embassy prompted Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon, his family and 80 staff members to rush to the airport to leave the country. They arrived in Israel early Saturday. Israeli officials said Egyptian commandos helped to evacuate six other Israelis who were trapped in the embassy.

The Israeli government said it has left its deputy ambassador in Egypt to keep up diplomatic contact. And while it thanked the Egyptian government for its help, it called the episode a violation of international norms.

Diplomatic relations have been tense between the two countries since Israeli forces mistakenly killed five Egyptian police officers last month near the border while responding to a cross-border militant attack.

Public anger over that event has escalated in Egypt. Calls also have been growing in Egypt to end its historic 1979 peace treaty with Israel since the ouster of former leader Hosni Mubarak.