Egypt on alert, Israeli ambassador withdraws

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has declared a state of alert and opened an emergency situation room after the Israeli Embassy in Cairo was stormed by hundreds of Egyptian protesters.

­The Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Yitzhak Levanon, together with his family and other embassy staff, has left Egypt and set off for Tel-Aviv.

They had been waiting to be evacuated by a military plane at Cairo airport. They refused to communicate with the press or leave the country on a regular flight for security reasons.

A group of protesters have reportedly managed to break into the Israeli Embassy. However, an Israeli official told Reuters news agency that the embassy itself has not been breached.

Earlier a group of some 30 protesters broke into an apartment one floor below the embassy and started throwing piles of documents off the balcony.

Demonstrators destroyed a part of the wall around the building and pulled down the Israeli flag – for the second time in less than a month.

Protesters clashed with police outside the embassy and set fire to a police truck. They also reportedly tried to attack a nearby police station.

According to Egyptian Deputy Health Minister Hamid Abaza, at least three people have been killed and at least 1,093 people injured, including 300 police officers.

One more person has reportedly died of a heart attack.

Israeli officials stated that no embassy personnel have been injured.

The siege comes after the protests on Tahrir Square that broke out over the killing of five Egyptian solders in the Sinai district. Some demonstrators crossed the Nile into Giza to destroy the wall Egyptian authorities had built around the Israeli embassy. Egyptian police stood aside watching as protesters set about the concrete wall with hammers and large metal rods.

Tensions between the two countries, which flared up after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, became even more heated in mid-August when five Egyptian border guards died in an Israeli security operation. The Israeli army, which was hunting down the gunmen it held responsible for shootings in southern Israel, reached the Sinai district.

After the incident, Egypt threatened to withdraw its ambassador from Tel Aviv. Israel ordered an investigation into the deaths of the Egyptian soldiers, but has not offered a full apology.

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