Egyptian activists breach Israeli embassy security

Demonstrators taking some direct action to gain access to the Israeli embassy

UPDATE: 13.36 GMT – reports coming in that a second wave of protestor are en route to thte embassy right now. Ive also added a really insightful and on the ball post from http://www.arabist.net

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Thousands of Egyptians came out to demonstrate outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo last night and breached some of the external security wall. In an initial breech, protestors tore down the wall, an made their way into the embassy retrieving some confidental documents. Israel has evacuated several of its staff including the ambassador, leaving its deputy ambassador to “maintain diplomatic ties”.

This video was posted by Ghazala Irshad an Egyptian journalist and blogger you can follow at @ghazalairshad

This footage shows the police crackdown on the movements

It has been reported that three people have died and many more injured as people clashed with the police any army who tried to repel the protestors. In an already tense situtation between Revolutionary Youth Coalition and the SCAF – the supposedly temporary but intensely counter revolutionary ruling council of the Egyptian army, its likely to see further escalation and increased use of military trials of ordinary Egyptians.

Egyptian police stood aside as activists tore down the concrete wall to the cheers of hundreds of demonstrators.

“It is great that Egyptians say they will do something and actually do it,” Egyptian film director and activist Khaled Youssef said, standing among the protesters outside the embassy.

“They said they will demolish the wall and they did … the military council has to abide by the demands of the Egyptian people,” he said, according to Reuters.

Tensions have been high between the Israeli State and the revolutionary movements. Mubarak was a close ally of Israeli and an essential part in maintaining the enclosure policy that makes up Israel’s on blockade and policy of collective punishment.  Some of the reaction for across Egytpian Twitter users are educational themselves in highlightly the tensions between conservative/liberal Egyptians and activists who are pushing for the realisation of the demands of those instrumental in bringing down the regime

@mahmoudellozy a playwright and teacher tweets -

“I constantly get bullied by fascist liberals to accept the “other” point of view. You cocksucking bastards! I am the “other” point of view …According to Egyptian Liberals this is how a revolution should go: we organize a tuxedo and evening gown event at the Four Seasons and over cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres we agree to develop new and more devious ways of robbing the poor in the name of the revolution. Egyptian liberals and business people weeping all over Twitter over their Zionist masters. I’m happy!!” Unsurprisingly these sentiments have a lot of support

Israel has evacuated several of its staff including the ambassador, leaving its deputy ambassador. Last month the Israeli army killed 5 Egyptian policemen in an operation that has caused growing public anger.

Ive reposted in full below a really good analysis from The Arabist blog

I don’t have much time but can’t resist a quick comment on the attack on the Israeli embassy last night, which is already the subject of much Twitter debate.

First, what happened: yesterday there were multiple protests in Cairo, starting with one of several tens of thousands who called for an end to military tribunals, greater judicial independence, a better electoral law and other measures. The protest also was against Israel, for the recent killing of six Egyptian border guards. Some of these protestors went to the Israeli embassy, and this ended with a confrontation with police and military and, for the first time in the history of protests against the Israeli embassy, a break-in in what was probably the non-secure portion of its offices.

A few points:

  • The construction of a wall outside the embassy was almost a provocation to people to come and bring it down. The symbolism of a wall was not lost on any one and merely angered people.
  • The Turkish decision to downscale relations with Israel also caused a surge in national sentiment.
  • The SCAF’s handling of the border shootings leaves much to be desired, notably because of inconsistent statements.
  • Israel’s failure to make a clear, unambiguous apology for the shootings was really stupid but typically arrogant — another sign that Israel is slow to adapt to the new regional mood. But Egyptian anger is understandable: imagine if Mexico killed US border guards.
  • The attack on the embassy took place in a general atmosphere of distrust of the SCAF in its handling of both domestic and foreign affairs, mounting anxiety about Egypt’s transition, and incompetent and unclear leadership. I sincerely doubt it would have taken place if Nabil al-Arabi was still foreign minister.
  • There are important details about the attack: it took place a few days after clashes between football fans and the police, leading to many of these Ultras both angry at the authorities and afraid that they might be arrested. The Ultras’ role in penetrating the embassy was probably crucial, because they are determined and fearless (and it’s important to note that in previous protests there was more restraint; it probably would have ended up with just the wall being torn down, which would have been quite satisfying in itself.)
  • The SCAF’s failure to prevent the intrusion into the embassy proper is flabbergasting.

I don’t think I need to restate my dislike of Israel and my belief that it is largely responsible for the hostility against it in Egypt and the region, nor the looming end of the Camp David framework to Egyptian-Israeli relations. That should be clear to anyone who has read this blog. But it remains the case that the attack of an embassy is a grave violations of diplomatic norms, an worrying for other embassies in Cairo (remember the Danish cartoons crisis anyone?)

The act of entering the embassy was not just illegal (in terms of domestic and international law), it was mindless and showed a poor sense of strategy and priority. It will hurt the credibility of the protest movement at home and abroad, reinforce fears of a country getting out of control domestically, and distract from the more important issue of Egypt’s still uncertain democratic transition. And it will not achieve, beyond the fleeing of most Israeli officials in Egypt for now, much to change the nature of the Egyptian-Israeli relationship. Even with only one senior embassy official remaining, the strategic relations are now taking place chiefly military to military through liaison offices that operate far away from where the embassy is located. This action does nothing to change Egyptian policy, and certainly nothing to help Palestinians, like fully ending the blockade of Gaza would.

But what’s worse about the incident is that it shows how the revolution’s positive energy — the desire for better governance, greater democracy and a more dignified foreign policy — is being dissipated.

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