Attack on Israeli embassy condemned
The attack on his country's embassy in Egypt is a "grave violation" of diplomatic norms and a "blow to peaceful relations" between the two countries, a senior Israeli official said today.
The official says all the embassy staff except the deputy ambassador left Egypt by this morning. The Israeli ambassador and his family had rushed to the airport and left the country.
Their departure followed a night of violence during which a mob broke into the Israeli Embassy in Cairo after tearing down a cement barrier around the building.
The Israeli official says six Israelis were trapped inside the embassy but that Egyptian commandos later stormed the building and evacuated them.
Egypt has put its police force on a state of alert after the rampage, which further worsened already deteriorating ties between Israel and post-Hosni Mubarak Egypt.
The state Mena news agency says 448 people were injured in overnight clashes between thousands of protesters and police, who fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. Forty-six policemen were also hurt and 17 protesters were arrested.
Egypt's state TV says the interior ministry today ordered all officers back on duty and cancelled leave.
The Israeli ambassador, his family and most of the staff and their dependants - some 80 people - were evacuated out of the country by military aircraft overnight, the Israeli official said.
Only the deputy ambassador was still in Egypt, he added.
"That the government of Egypt ultimately acted to rescue our people is noteworthy and we are thankful," the official said. "But what happened is a blow to the peaceful relations, and of course, a grave violation of accepted diplomatic behaviour between sovereign states."
Outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo's neighbourhood of Giza, thousands of protesters battled riot police into the morning hours, hurling stones at the troops as they fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Several cars, police vehicles and trees on the streets were set ablaze. The violence subsided by 6am.