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Middle East
Egypt protests to Israel over troops killings
Cairo to request compensation from Israel for deaths of Egyptian security officers.
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2011 17:39
Egyptians demanded the Israeli embassy in Cairo be closed over border killings [AFP]

Egyptian demonstrators have held an angry protest outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo, over claims that up to five Egyptian security personnel were killed on Thursday.

Protesters burnt the Israeli flag and chanted, "Close the embassy! Expel the ambassador" and demanded on Friday the resignation of the Israeli ambassador and the cancellation of a peace treaty between the countries.

The protest carried on throughout the night, with demonstrators bringing down the metal barriers surrounding the embassy and stomping on them, Al Jazeera correspondent Rawya Rageh reported from the scene.

"People are still gathered outside the embassy and they are making quite a lot of noise. The protesters are insisting on making their voices heard and one of the protesters told me that they have no intention of leaving until the Israeli flag, perched on top of the 20th floor of the apartment building is brought down." our reporter said.

 "Whether the deaths occurred as a result of direct gun fire or air raids still remains unclear and this is one the main contentious issues and one of the main reasons for the anger we were sensing outside the Israeli embassy … there is a lack of transparency regarding what exactly happened.

"We have not seen the army trying to forcefully remove protesters from the embassy, an indication perhaps that the military this time is really realising how strong the sentiment is on the street and how big the issue is for Egyptians, and that it has to thread carefully this time around," our reporter added.

Earlier in the day, state media reported that Egypt had lodged an official protest to Israel demanding an investigation into the killings of the security officials during an Israeli military operation near the border.

"Egypt filed an official complaint with Israel following yesterday's deaths at the border between Israel and Egypt," the official MENA news agency reported on Friday, citing an unnamed military official.

"Egypt has demanded an urgent probe into the circumstances of the deaths and injuries of Egyptian forces' members inside our borders."

The killings have sparked anger among the Egyptian public, especially after Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, said Thursday's attacks in southern Israel reflect "the weakening of Egypt's hold in the Sinai and the broadening of activities by terror elements".

Khaled Fouda, the Sinai governor, refuted Barak's statements saying that Egypt has "increased security patrolling and checkpoints in Sinai".

Government reaction

Sami Enan, the Egyptian military chief of staff, visited Sinai on Friday to look into the deaths and speak to troops.


Essam Sharaf, the Egyptian prime minister, who condemned the killings, held an emergency meeting with members of the ruling military council and the intelligence community to assess the situation.

Our correspondent said that a number of decisions were taken in the meeting.

"The Egyptian government said it is going to repeat its demand to ask for a full apology from the state of Israel.

“We also understand that they are also going to request compensation for the families of the security personnel who have lost their lives.

“Perhaps most importantly, the Egyptian Foreign Minister will be summoning the Israeli ambassador in Cairo to personally hand him these demands." Our reporter said.

Earlier Sharaf vowed Egyptian blood would not be "spilled unanswered."

Amr Moussa, a front-runner for Egypt's upcoming presidential elections who stepped down earlier this year as Arab League chief, urged: "There must be a reaction."

"The blood of these conscripts is not cheap. All parties, including Israel, have to be warned against harming Egyptian soldiers," he said.

"Israel and any other (country) must understand that the day our sons get killed without a strong and an appropriate response, is gone and will not come back," wrote Moussa.

He tweeted his statement along with, "the blood of our martyrs which was spilled while carrying out their duties, will not be shed in vain."

Saad al-Katatni, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, said in a statement published on the daily shorouk's website "the Zionists must realise that Egyptian blood now has a price".

Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979 but there have been calls to revise the agreement after a popular revolution ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February.

The military, which took power after Mubarak's overthrow, has said it would honour the treaty.

Source:
Al Jazeera and Agencies
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