Egypt to withdraw ambassador to Israel over ambush

Egypt said today it will withdraw its ambassador from Israel to protest the deaths of Egyptian security forces in what it called a breach of the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries, sharply escalating tensions after a cross-border ambush that killed eight Israelis.

Israel has blamed the ambush on Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip who crossed the border from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The diplomatic spat erupted after the Egyptians claimed the security forces were killed as the Israelis pursued the assailants.



The fallout also has threatened to stoke the Middle East conflict as retaliatory violence between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas spiked in the aftermath of Thursday's attack. Israeli airstrikes killed at least 12 Palestinians, most of them militants, in the Gaza Strip, and nine Israelis have been wounded by Palestinian rockets fired into southern Israel.



There were conflicting statements about how the Egyptians were killed, but an Egyptian Cabinet statement said it held Israel "politically and legally responsible for this incident," which it deemed a breach of the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries. It demanded an immediate investigation.



In strong language, it said Egypt will take all measures and send reinforcements to protect its borders and "to respond to any Israeli military activity at the Egyptian borders."



It also said that Israel was to blame because lax security from its side allowed the ambush to take place.



"The Egyptian ambassador to Israel will be withdrawn until we are notified about the results of an investigation by the Israeli authorities, and receive an apology from its leadership over the sad and hasty remarks about Egypt," the Cabinet statement said.



It was the first time in nearly 11 years that Egypt decided to withdraw its ambassador from Israel. The last time was in November 2000 when the Egyptians protested what they called excessive use of violence during the second Palestinian uprising.



The decision to withdraw Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Reda came as hundreds of protesters staged demonstrations in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, unfurling a Palestinian flag, throwing fire crackers toward the top floor and calling for expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in response to the killings.



Egypt's official news agency blamed the Israelis for shooting and killing the Egyptian forces while chasing militants who killed eight Israelis in Thursday's ambush across the border in southern Israel.



The Cabinet statement said that Israel had "carried out a random raid that led to the death of three Egyptian soldiers and injury of four others." Egyptian officials have said another Egyptian soldier and a policeman died Friday of wounds from the attack. It was not clear why the Cabinet statement only mentioned three.



The Cabinet accused Israel of trying to "shirk responsibility for the recklessness of Israeli security forces in protecting the borders."



Israeli officials did not immediately comment on Egypt's decision, although the military promised on Friday to investigate the shootings.



An Israeli military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with military regulations, initially said a suicide bomber, not Israeli soldiers, killed the Egyptian security forces. He said the attacker had fled back across the border into Egypt and detonated his explosives among the Egyptian troops.



Israeli media also reported that some of the sniper fire directed at the Israeli motorists on Thursday came from near Egyptian army posts and speculated that the Egyptian troops were killed in the cross fire.



It was not possible to reconcile the different versions.



Thursday's attack signaled a new danger for Israel from its border with the Sinai Peninsula, an area that has always been restive but was kept largely under control by former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. The desert area has become increasingly lawless since Mubarak was ousted on February 11 following a popular uprising.



Relations between the two countries have been chilly since they made peace in 1979, but Israel valued Mubarak as a source of stability with shared interests in containing Iran and its radical Islamic proxies in the region.



The violence could further damage ties if Egypt's political upheaval and a resulting power vacuum in Sinai allows Gaza militants, who had been pummeled by a punishing Israeli three-week war 2 years ago, to open a new front against Israel in the frontier area.



Anger rose after Egyptian officials said Thursday's gunbattles killed five Egyptian security personnel. An Egyptian security official said three died Thursday and two others died of wounds yesterday.



"Israel and any other (country) must understand that the day our sons get killed without a strong and an appropriate response, is gone and will not come back," wrote Amr Moussa, former Arab League chief and now a presidential hopeful. He tweeted his statement along with, "the blood of our martyrs which was spilled while carrying out their duties, will not be shed in vain." AP

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
VIDEO
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Consultant – Building Management

up to £45,000 + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Green ...

Senior Industrial Energy Consultant

Up to £45,000 + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Green ...

Mechanical Building Services Energy Engineer

up to £45K basic + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Gr...

Building Services Energy Engineer

up to £45K basic + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Gr...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal