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Israel Embassy Staff Cautiously Returns to Cairo

The staff of Israel's embassy in Cairo has returned to Egypt, according to a source at the city's airport.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 11/26/2012, 5:23 PM

protesters in Cairo
protesters in Cairo
Reuters

The staff of Israel's embassy in Cairo has returned to Egypt, according to a source at the city's airport. The employees had left the embassy during the eight-day Operation Pillar of Defense counter terror offensive against Gaza.

Seven staff members arrived from Tel Aviv on Monday led by General Consul Yehuda Golan, according to the Egypt Independent newspaper. Israeli Ambassador Yaakov Amitai was not among the arrivals, German news agency DPA reported, despite earlier security preparations at the airport's VIP lounge.

Amitai had returned to Israel temporarily more than 10 days ago, prior to the start of the military offensive launched to silence Gaza terrorist rocket fire aimed at Israel. Journalists have speculated that he may have delayed his return due to political tensions in the country over President Mohammed Morsi's decision to expand his own powers. Massive protests have been scheduled by various Egyptian groups in Cairo for Tuesday.

Israel-Egypt relations have become increasingly complex since the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak following the January 25 Revolution of 2011 that came on the heels of Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution" and heralded the start of the region wide Arab Spring. 

In September 2011, the Israeli embassy in Cairo was attacked and destroyed by a howling mob of paid rioters who scaled the walls and tore down the state flag. Egyptian security personnel arrived only after a phone  call was received from U.S. President Barack Obama, pressuring top officials to extract Israeli staff and escort them to safety.

Since that time, Israel has not located a new building in which to officially reopen its embassy. Instead, embassy services are provided from an unofficial location in the capital, due to the uncertain security situation.

Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected as president in June. He expressed solid support for Gaza's ruling Hamas terrorist organization during Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense, and recalled Egypt's ambassador from Tel Aviv.