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Cairo protesters break into Israeli Embassy
Embassy staff awaiting evacuation at airport


September 9, 2011 - A group of about 30 protesters broke into the Israeli Embassy in Cairo late Friday and dumped hundreds of documents out of the windows after a day of demonstrations outside the building in which crowds swinging sledge hammers and using their bare hands tore apart the embassy's security wall. Israel's ambassador, Yitzhak Levanon, his family and other embassy staff were waiting at Cairo's airport for a military plane to evacuate them, said airport officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media....


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Cairo protesters break into Israeli Embassy
Embassy staff awaiting evacuation at airport

Associated Press

9cairo_israeliembassy5.jpg

September 9, 2011

Egyptian protesters succeed in getting the Israeli flag down the Embassy for 2nd time



A group of about 30 protesters broke into the Israeli Embassy in Cairo late Friday and dumped hundreds of documents out of the windows after a day of demonstrations outside the building in which crowds swinging sledge hammers and using their bare hands tore apart the embassy's security wall.

Israel's ambassador, Yitzhak Levanon, his family and other embassy staff were waiting at Cairo's airport for a military plane to evacuate them, said airport officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Hundreds of protesters converged on the embassy throughout the afternoon and into the night, tearing down large sections of the graffiti-covered security wall outside the 21-storey building housing the embassy. Egyptian security forces made no attempt for hours to intervene.

Just before midnight, a group of protesters reached a room on one of the embassy's lower floors at the top of the building and began dumping Hebrew-language documents from the windows, said an Egyptian security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

In Jerusalem, an Israeli official confirmed the embassy had been broken into, saying it appeared the group reached a waiting room on the lower floor. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to release the information. No one answered the phone at the embassy late Friday.

Seven months after the popular uprising that drove Mubarak from power, Egyptians are still pressing for a list of changes, including more transparent trials of former regime figures accused of corruption and a clear timetable for parliamentary elections.

Egyptians have grown increasingly distrustful of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took control of the country when Mubarak was forced out on Feb. 11 after nearly three decades in power. The council, headed by Mubarak's defence minister, Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, has voiced its support for the revolution and those who called for democracy and justice.

But activists accuse it of remaining too close to Mubarak's regime and practising similarly repressive policies, including abusing detainees. The trials of thousands of civilians in military courts has also angered activists.

"In the beginning we were with the military because they claimed to be protectors of the revolution, but month after month nothing has changed," said Ghada Nimr, one of those who gathered in Tahrir Square.

One banner in Cairo read, "Egyptians, come out of your homes, Tantawi is Mubarak."

Security forces turn blind eye

Outside the Israeli Embassy, protesters for the second time in less than a month pulled down the Israeli flag from atop the 21-storey building.

Egyptian security forces did not intervene as crowds climbed up the embassy's security wall, pummeling it with sledge hammers and tearing away large sections of the cement and metal barrier, which was recently put up to better protect the property from protests.

Protesters set fire to a police truck outside the embassy and tried to attack a nearby police station but were turned back by the military.

Since Mubarak's fall, calls have grown in Egypt for ending the historic 1979 peace treaty with Israel, a pact that has never had the support of ordinary Egyptians. Anger increased last month after Israeli forces responding to a cross-border militant attack mistakenly killed five Egyptian police officers near the border.

Protesters marched to the embassy from Cairo's Tahrir Square, where thousands more demonstrated against Egypt's ruling generals. Demonstrators in Cairo also converged on the state TV building, a central courthouse and the Interior Ministry, a hated symbol of abuses by police and security forces under Mubarak. Protesters covered one of the ministry's gates with graffiti and tore off parts of the large ministry seal.

Protests also took place in Alexandria, Suez and several other cities. Up to 90 people were injured, including one left in a coma, the Health Ministry said.

About 850 people were killed in the early days of the Jan. 25-Feb. 11 uprising. Tantawi is scheduled to testify in Mubarak's trial in closed sessions that begin Sunday. Mubarak, 83, is on trial on charges of complicity in the deaths of protesters, a charge that could bring the death penalty.

TV cameras banned

The judge in the trial banned TV cameras from the courtroom during this week's sessions, and starting Sunday the proceedings will be closed to the media and the public. The lack of transparency in trials of members of Mubarak's inner circle has angered many in Egypt.

"These are all practices of the old regime: repression and restriction on freedoms," said Cairo protester Khaled Abdel-Hamid.

Ali Mustafa Ali, who travelled from the northern Sinai peninsula to participate in Friday's protest in Cairo, said he is most angered by the trials of thousands of civilians in military courts, many of them political activists facing years in jail.

Ali said the military must also show they are serious about a transition to civilian rule by announcing a clear schedule for parliamentary elections. "The military council's politics are not clear. It seems they are trying to stay in control and not hand over power to civilians," he said.

The council has not set an exact date for the elections, but they are expected to take place in October or November.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which has the ability to mobilize scores of protesters, did not take part in Friday's protests. Spokesman Essam El-Arian said the group, which was outlawed under Mubarak, is in support of the military's promises to hold elections sometime this year.

"These demands take time and can only be carried out by an elected government," El-Arian said.





:: Article nr. 81273 sent on 10-sep-2011 02:33 ECT

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