Egyptians Break into Israeli Embassy in Cairo

Israel’s embassy in Cairo has been stormed by protesters who tore down one of the outer embassy walls and threw thousands of documents from the embassy’s windows.

The angry protesters also replaced the neighbouring country’s flag with their own after breaking in on Friday night.

In response, the Egyptian prime minister summoned the cabinet crisis team to discuss the situation, and the interior ministry declared a state of alert.

The group that swarmed the embassy had left a mass rally at nearby Tahrir Square, where organised protesters called for reforms by the military, which now governs Egypt.

"Thousands of documents were being thrown out of the windows, but it’s unclear which floor they were coming from," Al Jazeera correspondent Sherine Tadros said.

"Indications are that it’s pretty much a chaotic situation. Protesters set on fire two police vehicles."

Just past 3am local time on Saturday, the Egyptian health ministry said there had officially been 520 injuries as a result of clashes around the embassy. An earlier report said one person had died of a heart attack.

Nora Shalaby, a protester outside Israel’s embassy, justified the protesters’ actions.

"I think this is the only way we can get our point across,

"Here we still have lots of tear gas. There’s rubber bullets. They’re basically attacking us from all sides," she said, reffering to government security forces.
 
A few hours later, Tadros said that the Egyptian military stepped in to work with police to quell protests.

"The military is actually starting to fire live ammunition into the air.

"Once again, protesters are trying to storm the [Egyptian] security headquarters.

"As far as we understand these protesters are unarmed, they’ve been there for hours," Sherine Tadros said.

The Israeli ambassador to Egypt has reportedly boarded a flight at the Cairo airport bound for Tel Aviv, along with his family and 70 other embassy workers.

US President Barack Obama was first to react, calling on Egypt to protect the embassy and "to honor its international obligations to safeguard the security of the Israeli Embassy."

A White House statement said that "the President expressed his great concern about the situation at the embassy, and the security of the Israelis serving there".

The statement said that Obama spoke by telephone to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the two agreed “to stay in close touch until the situation is resolved."

The incident began with around 1,000 people attacking a wall recently built outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo to protect the building.

Using hammers and a large metal bar, the protesters managed to partially destroyed the wall, about two metres high.

Last month, Egyptians staged huge protests outside the embassy and called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador over the border deaths of Egyptian policemen killed as Israel hunted a group of attackers.

Egypt has asked Israel for an official apology and demanded a probe into the deaths of the five policemen.
 
(Al Jazeera and Agencies)

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