'Egyptians paid to storm Israeli embassy in Cairo'

Participants may have been paid 5,000-11,000 pounds to "go to the embassy and create chaos," Egyptian newspaper reports.

By OREN KESSLER
September 18, 2011 08:42
2 minute read.
Egyptian ram Israeli embassy in Cairo

Egyptian ram Israeli embassy in Cairo_311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Egyptian rioters who stormed the Israeli Embassy in Cairo 10 days ago were paid off by a wealthy tycoon, Egypt’s state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported Sunday.

Quoting a “judicial source,” the daily reported that last Thursday, a day before the incident, protesters were taken by “luxury tourist buses” to a lavish dinner where they were encouraged to take revenge against Israel “for our children killed on the border.”

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Each participant was reportedly given an envelope with between 5,000-11,000 Egyptian pounds (NIS 3,000-6,500), and instructed to gather at 5 the following afternoon “in various locations such as the zoo and the field of Cairo University to go to the embassy and create chaos.”

Hundreds of Egyptians stormed the building housing Israel’s mission in Cairo on September 9, throwing embassy documents and its national flag from windows.

The embassy breach came days after Israeli forces accidentally killed five Egyptian security personnel while pursuing gunmen who had killed eight Israelis in a terror attack near Eilat.

Meanwhile, Sunday, Islamists and other political groups sought changes to election rules to ensure those linked to Hosni Mubarak’s now defunct party are blocked from Egypt’s first free parliamentary vote in decades.

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The head of the election committee, Abdelmuezz Ibrahim, said the poll for the lower house would start on November 21 and the vote for the upper house would begin on January 22, with each vote being held in three stages, state newspapers reported.

Most parties have welcomed the army’s call for elections to start in November, although some liberal groups have said they want more time, fearing wellorganized Islamists are in the best position now to dominate the vote. But groups across the spectrum worry existing rules may allow loyalists of Mubarak’s now disbanded National Democratic Party (NDP) to re-emerge by letting them run under a system that splits voting between party lists and individuals.

Some also say the broad constituencies outlined under the new rules may favor those with cash. Many wealthy business executives in Egypt backed the NDP.

“We reject the suggested election law [as we want] to block the remnants of the NDP and prevent the use of money or tribalism,” said Muhammad Saad el-Katatni, secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party.”

We will demand that all parliament seats shall be elected through closed proportional lists,” he said, referring to a system where parties or alliances draw up a list and voters choose between the different lists rather than individuals.

Supporters of this system say it encourages voters to focus on the political programs on offer.

On Sunday, former Tourism Minister Zoheir Garranah was given a three-year jail sentence for unlawfully issuing company licenses, the latest jail term for ex-officials who served under Mubarak.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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