Egypt has declared state of alert after three people die and more than a thousand were injured as crowds attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo.
Israel has evacuated its ambassador in Egypt after crowds stormed the embassy in Cairo, plunging Egypt’s ruling army deeper into its worst diplomatic crisis since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
Egyptian PM Essam Sharaf is holding a crisis cabinet meeting and a state of alert has been declared as protesters remain on the streets following the violence on Friday, burning tyres and chanting slogans against the governing military council.
According to an Egyptian official, at least three people died and more than 1,000 were injured during street clashes with police and army troops after an angry mob attacked the Israeli embassy building.
Hamid Abaza, deputy health minister said that one of the three fatalities in the violence late on Friday was a man who died of a heart attack.
Hamid Abaza told AP on Saturday he doesn’t know the cause of the other two deaths. He said 1,093 people were injured in the clashes.
The attackers pelted the police and the military with rocks, prompting the troops to fire tear gas and shoot into the air. Only 38 of the injured remained in hospital.
Earlier, the protesters tore down a security wall outside the Israeli mission and stormed the embassy’s offices.
Police fired shots in the air and teargas to disperse the crowd.
About 500 protesters were remained near the embassy on Saturday early in the morning. But police gradually pushed them back and secured the area.
According to an Israeli official, the rampage marked a further deterioration of diplomatic ties between Israel and Egypt since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.
Israel’s ambassador, Yitzhak Levanon, his family and most of the staff and their dependents, around 80 people were evacuated out of the country by military aircraft overnight, the official added. Only the deputy ambassador remains in Egypt.
“That the government of Egypt ultimately acted to rescue our people is noteworthy and we are thankful,” the Israeli official said.
“But what happened is a blow to the peaceful relations, and of course, a grave violation of accepted diplomatic behaviour between sovereign states.”
The rampage was the second major eruption of violence at the embassy since five Egyptian border guards were killed last month during an Israeli operation against gunmen. That incident prompted Egypt briefly to threaten to withdraw its envoy.
“This action shows the state of anger and frustration the young Egyptian revolutionaries feel against Israel especially after the recent Israeli attacks on the Egyptian borders that led to the killing of Egyptian soldiers,” said Nabil Abdel Fattah, Egyptian political analyst.
Israel is already embroiled in a diplomatic feud with Turkey, formerly one of its closest allies, over Israel’s armed assault on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in which nine people were killed.
Hamdeen Sabahy, the Egyptian presidential candidate called for the army to take a “serious stance matching the public anger” towards Israel but said violence sullied the image of Egypt’s uprising.
In August, a man climbed up a flagpole on the Israeli embassy and took down the flag, replacing it with the Egyptian flag.