Saturday, September 10, 2011

At U.S. Urging, Egyptian Commandos Free Trapped Israelis at Embassy

Egyptian commandos freed six Israeli security guards stranded at their mob-occupied embassy in Cairo overnight in a gutsy image-saving raid that drew applause from a grateful Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.

The trapped embassy guards were in a super-secure room at the mission that the mob could not break down, and Israeli officials watched the commando mission in a war room in Jerusalem as it unfolded, according to an inside source cited by YNetNews.

The stranded Israelis were whisked off to the Cairo airport, where they boarded an Israeli military plane.

"The mob attack on the Israeli embassy in Egypt is a serious incident, but could have been worse had the rioters managed to get through the last door and hurt our people," Netanyahu said.

The Obama administration quietly but firmly pressed the interim military government in Egypt to take action to ensure every Israeli was able to flee the embassy safely.

"I'm glad we managed to prevent a disaster and would like to thank U.S. President Obama for his help. I would also like to congratulate all the intelligence officials who helped in the rescue for their excellent work," Netanyahu said.

"The fact that the Egyptian authorities acted with determination and rescued our people should be noted and we extend them our thanks," Netanyahu added. "However, Egypt must not ignore the severe injury to the fabric of peace with Israel and such a blatant violation of international norms. We will hold consultations later on."

The Israeli ambassador to Egypt, his family and 80 staff earlier safely returned to Israel after about 30 angry protesters breached a cement wall with sledge hammers and stormed the Israeli embassy.      

Israeli ambassador Yitzhak Levanon and his entourage left Cairo for Israel early this morning on a military aircraft, Haaretz reported.

The mob managed to get into part of the Israeli embassy, where they dumped hundreds of documents and an Israeli flag out of the windows of the building.

The protesters set fire to two police vehicles outside the embassy and clashed with authorities who were unable to stop the ransacking of the embassy.

Yaakov Dvir, Israel's consul for state affairs and deputy ambassador, will remain in Egypt to maintain an Israeli presence, Reuters reported.

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