Egypt’s protesters break into Israeli embassy in Cairo and toss confidential documents
Dozens of protesters broke into the Israeli Embassy in Cairo on Friday and dumped hundreds of documents out of the windows, Egyptian and Israeli officials said.
Hundreds of protesters had been converging on the embassy throughout the afternoon and into the night, tearing down large sections of a security wall outside the 21-story building housing the embassy, according to The Associated Press.
Protestors tossed thousands of pages of documents into the jubilant crowd, an AFP journalist saw.
Meanwhile, more than 215 people were injured in clashes between protesters and security forces near the Jewish embassy, Egypt’s state TV reported citing the Health Ministry.
One protester died as a result of heart attack in the Cairo unrest, Al Arabiya correspondent said, pointing out that gunfire was heard nearby.
The clashes came shortly after demonstrators partly destroyed a wall recently built outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo to protect the building, an AFP correspondent witnessed.
In Jerusalem, where the Foreign Ministry was monitoring events in Cairo, an Israeli official said Israeli diplomatic documents thrown from the windows of the tower housing the embassy appeared to be “pamphlets and forms kept at the foyer.”
“The embassy itself has not been breached,” the official told Reuters.
Witnesses in Cairo said demonstrators also tried to storm the police compound in the area and set fire to a nearby building, and that police used tear gas to disperse them.
Activists also set fire to at least four police vehicles after destroying the embassy wall, built earlier this month to protect the mission from protesters.
Thousands of people had earlier gathered outside the building housing the Jewish mission and attacked the wall with hammers and a large metal bar, as military police nearby did nothing to stop them.
They chanted: “Lift your head, you are Egyptian,” according to AFP.
One protester took down the Israeli flag from the embassy in a Cairo high-rise, the second such incident in a month, Al Arabiya correspondent said.
He threw the flag down to the street some 20 storeys below as thousands of protesters cheered him on.
The wall, about two meters (6.5 feet) high, consists of prefabricated cement slabs that were recently installed around the building that houses the embassy overlooking a bridge in Cairo.
Last month, outraged 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 militants.
Egypt has asked Israel for an official apology and demanded a probe into the deaths of the five policemen.
During one of the anti-Israeli protests, an Egyptian man scaled the building housing the mission, removed the Jewish state’s Star of David flag and replaced it with Egypt’s colors, as the crowds cheered him on.
Egyptian officials said the wall was intended to protect residents of the high-rise embassy building, not the Israeli mission, according to Reuters.
The move against the embassy wall came as thousands of Egyptian activists demonstrated in central Cairo demanding faster reforms, ending military trials for civilians.
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.
Israel Radio cut into its Sabbath programming with bulletins about the Cairo demonstrations. Citing Foreign Ministry sources, it said the ambassador was safely at his official residence and that Israel was in contact with Egypt, the United States and European powers about the incident.
“Police will not do anything to the protesters and they will be left unharmed to continue demolishing the wall,” one security source said.