Hundreds of Egyptians remained in front of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo on
Sunday, vowing to continue the two-day rally until the ambassador’s
Protests took a dramatic turn in the afternoon when a
demonstrator scaled the 21- story building housing the embassy to take down the
Ahmed al-Shahat – a 23-yearold building contractor from the
eastern Nile Delta dubbed the “Egyptian Spiderman” – instantly become a national
Hamdeen Sabahy, a presidential candidate with the Nasserist Dignity
Party, issued a statement saluting Shahat, “the public hero who burned the
Zionist flag that spoiled the Egyptian air for 30 years.”
In an interview
with Al Jazeera’s recently launched Egyptian channel, Shahat said he gave a
thumbs-up sign to an army officer standing behind a window on the building’s
eighth floor, and the officer returned the favor.
“If the building was
100 floors high and not 21, I would have still climbed it,” Shahat told
reporters. “All Egyptians slept soundly because of what I did.”
American witness living in Cairo said troops did little to stop the protests on
Saturday and Sunday at the embassy in Dokki, a Cairo suburb home to around 40
“There were reports that people were coming from Tahrir
Square, which is across the Nile,” Jesse Ayala Jr. told The Jerusalem Post
the Egyptian capital. “As the protesters started yelling and breaking down the
barriers around the embassy, the military did very little to stop them – they
just kind of watched.
“Throughout the night, tanks were coming in and out
– just to rile the crowd, it looked like – and then they’d leave,” Ayala
He said troops did nothing when a group of protesters climbed onto
the tanks waving the black flag, associated with jihadi groups, bearing the
Shehada, or initial verse of the Koran.
Ayala – a 23-year-old
photographer and filmmaker from Madison, Wisconsin – said most of the protesters
were Egyptians angered at the death of five Egyptian security personnel on
Thursday from Israeli fire, and at Saturday’s statement from Defense Minister
Ehud Barak that Israel “regrets the death of Egyptian police
Ayala said demonstrators were demanding an official apology
from Israel, but protesters told Reuters and Egyptian media they wouldn’t leave
the embassy area until the Israeli ambassador was permanently
Some Palestinians were also in attendance, Ayala said, angered
by Israel’s air strikes on Gaza in response to Thursday’s terrorist attacks in
southern Israel. “I think they mistook the Egyptians’ outrage as a sign of
solidarity, but that’s not the tone that I got from talking to people there,” he
Cairo’s Daily News newspaper reported protesters chanting “Egyptian
blood isn’t for free,” burning Israeli flags and urging passersby to join them.
The paper reported protesters demanding the withdrawal of the Israeli envoy and
the Egyptian ambassador to Israel, an end to Egypt’s gas sales to Israel and a
renegotiation of the 1979 Camp David peace treaty.
“We don’t want any
Israeli entity on our land,” one woman told the paper. “We will not stand silent
at the killing of our soldiers,” another protester said.
In a joint
statement, 13 relatively liberal political factions – including the April 6
Youth Movement, Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution and the Democratic
Front Party – expressed support for the demonstrators.
The statement said
Egyptians must unite and solve internal issues to confront Israel’s attempt “to
sway Egyptians from protecting their revolution,” the daily reported. Those
issues include ending military trials for civilians and exposing members of the
deposed Hosni Mubarak regime, described as “the eyes and tools” of
The Egyptian Bloc, another group of 14 comparatively liberal
parties, expressed support for Egypt’s military and called on Egyptians to
support it in the face of any aggression, while condemning Thursday’s “Israeli
Yet another joint statement, issued by a number of presidential
hopefuls and parties including former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, the El Ghad
party’s Ayman Nour, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Abdel Monem Aboul Fotouh and the
secular, nationalist Wafd party described last week’s incident as an “example of
Israel’s arrogance and racism, supported by America.”
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