Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak underestimated the nature of the rallies that forced him out of power in February, Labor MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday as Mubarak's trial began in Cairo.

“I was in touch with him every day for 20 to 30 minutes during the [Egyptian] revolution. He didn’t properly estimate the explosive nature of the rallies,” Ben-Eliezer said.

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“When I saw where things were heading, I said it’s good that you are going to Sharm [e-Sheikh], because it’s not far from Eilat, and we could look after his health well in Eilat.

“Mubarak responded: ‘I fought for Egypt for 60 years, and I will die on Egyptian soil,’” the MK said.

Speaking about scenes broadcast today around the world showing Mubarak being wheeled into a Cairo courtroom on a hospital bed with his sons to stand trial for his role in the killing of protesters, Ben-Eliezer said, “It really pained me to see him the way he was today. He was the leader of the Arab world. The Middle East after Mubarak is a different Middle East, a worse region.

“His people, whom he fought for, showed him their backs,” Ben-Eliezer said. “He loves his people. I think he is a great Egyptian patriot. I hope he comes out of the trial alive.

“He is facing the pressure of the masses seeking revenge. But such a great leader deserves to be treated respectfully, and not as the lowest criminal in a cage.”

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