Egypt forces extract Israeli security guards from embassy

PM Netanyahu, US President Barack Obama appeal to Cairo security forces to intervene; guards reportedly feared for their lives.

September 10, 2011 12:47
1 minute read.
Clash at Israel embassy in Cairo

Clash at Israel embassy in Cairo. (photo credit: REUTERS)

JERUSALEM - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone with guards at the Israeli embassy in Cairo as they were besieged by an Egyptian mob on Saturday, reassuring them they would be rescued, aides said.

They said that after demonstrators penetrated the tower block housing the mission, some of the six-member staff on overnight security detail told Netanyahu they feared for their lives and asked him to pass farewells to their families.

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"All that separated them from the mob, at that point, was one wall. We were very concerned, and so were they," said an aide.

After telephoned appeals by Netanyahu to Cairo's interim military rulers and the Obama administration, Egyptian security forces extracted the guards before dawn. Another Netanyahu aide said the Israelis' heads were covered to throw off the crowds.

Israel had earlier sent a military plane to evacuate its ambassador, Yitzhak Levanon, and about 80 staff and families. A second aircraft brought the six guards "safe and sound" to Israel, Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

An official at the airport in Cairo confirmed the six had departed after being evacuted by Egyptian forces.

Israel's more than three-decade-old ties with Egypt were never particularly warm, although U.S.-backed ex-President Hosni Mubarak regularly met top visiting Israeli officials. However, the fall of Mubarak in February has deepened the chill between the two nations.

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