Islamist Mursi recalls Egypt’s ambassador to Israel over Gaza


Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi decided on Wednesday to recall the ambassador to Israel after a series of air strikes in Gaza killed a top Hamas militant and six other people, his spokesman said.

Mursi decided to “recall Egypt’s ambassador to Israel,” spokesman Yassir Ali said in a statement broadcast on state television.

He also ordered the foreign ministry to summon Israel’s ambassador in Cairo.

Meanwhile, an airport source said on Wednesday that Israel’s ambassador left Egypt after Mursi announced he was summoning him to discuss the Israeli attacks in Gaza.

“The Israeli ambassador to Egypt left suddenly along with his embassy staff... after Egypt summoned its ambassador in Tel Aviv following the Israeli assault on Gaza enclave,” the source said.

But an Israeli diplomat said Israel’s ambassador to Egypt has not been recalled.

Ambassador Yaakov Amitai had come to Israel before the Jewish state launched an assault on the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, the diplomat told Reuters, adding that the embassy in Cairo was functioning as normal.

Egypt’s foreign ministry condemned the attack and called for an immediate halt to the attacks.

The attacks came despite signs that Egypt had managed to broker a truce between Israel and Palestinian militants after a five-day surge in violence which saw more than 100 missiles fired out of Gaza and repeated Israeli strikes on the enclave.

“Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr condemned the series of air strikes that Israel is currently conducting against Gaza Strip and which led to the killing of Ahmed Al-Jaabari,” AFP reported the statement released by Egypt’s foreign ministry.

“He called on Israel to stop its strikes on Gaza Strip immediately,” the statement said adding that any further escalation from Israel “could have negative repercussions on the security and stabiltiy of the region.”

The statement said the Egyptian minister considered the “Israeli escalation to be very dangerous.”

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Islamist Freedom and Justice Party, formerly headed by Mursi, said on Wednesday Egypt would no longer stand by as Israel attacked Palestinians after air strikes killed a Hamas leader.

The FJP, the political arm of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood movement, said Israeli air strikes that killed top militant Ahmed al-Jaabari in Gaza earlier on Wednesday required “swift Arab and international action to stop the massacres.”

The party, which fielded Mursi in a June election to replace toppled president Hosni Mubarak, said Israel “must take into account the changes in the Arab region and especially Egypt.”

Egypt “will not allow the Palestinians to be subjected to Israeli aggression, as in the past,” the party statement said.

Mubarak, overthrown in early 2011, was criticized by his opponents for his response to an Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2008-2009 following rocket fire by Palestinian militants.

Mursi, a vociferous supporter of the Palestinians before his election, had been expected to open up to the blockaded Gaza Strip bordering Egypt, but his government has backed off from his pledges.

The leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip called on Arab states, especially Egypt, to halt Israel’s assault on the Palestinian enclave, which was launched earlier on Wednesday.

“We call on our Arab brothers, and especially Egypt ... and the new Egyptian presidency, to suppress this barbaric campaign in defense of Gaza and its people,” Reuters reported Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of Hamas’s Gaza government, saying in a statement.

“I call for an urgent Arab summit to confront the brutal aggression,” he added.

The Arab League said that it will hold an urgent meeting Saturday to discuss the Israeli strike on Gaza.