Egypt says it received formal apology from Barak's office

Israel issues letter of apology over deaths of 6 Egyptian security forces near Sinai border; Egyptian FM: Israel apologized at Cairo's behest.

October 13, 2011 08:54
2 minute read.
Egyptian FM Mohamed Amr

Egyptian FM Mohamed Amr_311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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Egypt confirmed on Wednesday that it had received an official letter of apology from Israel on the deaths of six Egyptian security forces near the southern border with Sinai.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry confirmed it had received an apology for the deaths from  Defense Minister Ehud Barak's office just hours after the announcement that Israel and Hamas had approved a prisoner-exchange agreement for the release of kidnapped tank gunner Gilad Schalit, Egyptian daily Al Ahram reported.

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Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr noted that Israel made the apology at the request of the government in Cairo, and that the apology included condolences from Barak to the families of the security forces that were killed.

The apology was issued as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened the cabinet to approve a prisoner swap for the release of Schalit. Egypt played a key role in mediating negotiations between Israel and Hamas over the prisoner exchange.

The apology was issued by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who has overseen the talks with Cairo that were led by OC Planning Directorate Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel. Earlier this week, an Israeli delegation traveled to Cairo and presented a draft of the planned apology to the interim military regime for its approval.

On August 18, a number of armed terrorists crossed into Israel via the Egyptian-Israeli border and killed eight Israelis, including two security personnel.
Israel blamed the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees for orchestrating the attacks and several hours later killed the group’s top leadership in an air strike in the southern Gaza Strip.

During the fighting along the Sinai border, five Egyptian policemen were killed. The Egyptians accused the IDF of shooting into Egypt and violating its sovereignty and demanded an apology. Israel expressed regret for the loss of Egyptian life but refrained from issuing an apology.

The IDF launched a probe, led by Eshel, which determined that it was possible that some of the soldiers were killed in the crossfire between IDF troops and members of the terrorist cell who were shooting into Israel from the Sinai Peninsula.

“The lessons were learned from the probe to prevent similar attacks in the future and to improve security along the border,” Barak’s office said in a statement. “Due to the findings from the probe, Defense Minister Barak decided to apologize for the death of each policeman who was killed by Israeli fire.”

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