Egypt on alert after Israeli embassy attack
Cairo - Egypt was on a state of alert on Saturday after protesters stormed the Israeli embassy, prompting the ambassador to flee, in the first attack of its kind since the two nations made peace 32 years ago.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the mob attack a "serious incident" and an unnamed official warned it was a "painful blow to peace" between Egypt and the Jewish state.
US President Barack Obama asked Egypt to protect the embassy, housed in a high-rise building overlooking the Nile in Cairo's Giza district, as French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe expressed concern over Egyptian-Israeli ties.
The Israeli official said Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon, other staff and dependants had all left Egypt but that a senior diplomat remained behind.
"We left the deputy ambassador to keep up contact with the Egyptian government," the official told AFP in Jerusalem.
Painful blow to peace
He said six embassy staff were plucked to safety by Egyptian commandos.
"It was a painful blow to the peace between us and a grave violation of diplomatic norms," the official said.
Information Minister Osama Heikal affirmed Egypt's commitment to protecting all embassies.
"Egypt affirms its total commitment to respecting international conventions, including the protection of all [diplomatic] missions" Heikal said in a televised message.
He also said Cairo would apply "all articles" of an emergency law in force for 30 years, that provides greater powers to the judiciary and police.
The embassy attack was the worst since Israel established its mission in Egypt after becoming the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish state in 1979. Jordan followed suit in 1994.