Sunday, September 11, 2011

US Officials Involved in Rescue of Israeli Embassy Guards in Egypt

U.S. officials involved in rescue of Israeli embassy guards in Egypt: media

JERUSALEM, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- More than 100 U.S. officials were involved in pressing Egypt to order the rescue operation of six security guards at the Israeli embassy in Cairo that had come under attack over the weekend, Israeli media revealed Sunday.

As hundreds of Egyptian rioters swarmed through the embassy building, the six men barricaded themselves inside a safe room sealed with a steel door and reinforced glass. At some point, they had fired warning shots in the air with their pistols in a bid to deter some demonstrators who had tried to break down the door.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yoram Cohen, had overseen the frantic attempts to secure the rescue of the six guards from a situation room at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

Reports said, around midnight Friday, Netanyahu decided to call U.S. President Barack Obama to ask for his personal involvement, after all attempts to reach the head of Egypt's Supreme Military Council and the de facto head of state, Gen. Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, had failed.

The source said that in the hours that preceded the arrival of Egyptian commandos at the scene, "Obama spoke with Gen. Tantawi and was in constant contact with (his national security advisor Tom) Donilon and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton."

Donilon and Clinton reportedly coordinated the efforts of more than 100 U.S. officials who were scrambled to press the Egyptians to rescue the Israelis, among them senior officials in Washington and the U.S. embassies in Tel Aviv and Cairo.

The Egyptian commandos who ultimately arrived at the embassy were able to get to the Israelis after firing live ammunition and tear gas at the demonstrators.

The Israelis were dressed in keffiyehs and traditional Arab dress to conceal their identities, placed inside armored personnel carriers and rushed to Cairo's airport, where they boarded a private jet dispatched by the Israeli Air Force.

Copyright 2010 Xinhua News Agency

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