The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday demanded that Egypt once again fly the Israeli flag over the ambassador's residence in Cairo, one day after Egyptian security forces guarding the building complied with the demands of hundreds of demonstrators who urged it be taken down.
Demonstrators on Tuesday applauded as the blue-and-white flag was removed from the home of Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon and demanded that Egypt scrap the decades-long peace deal with Israel. The Egyptian military also closed the main street leading to the residence, and dozens of police were stationed on surrounding roads for fear that the demonstrators would attempt to break in.
The incident on Tuesday followed a similar one on Sunday, when Egyptian Ahmed al-Shahat scaled 15 stories to the roof of the Israeli Embassy in full view of dozens of police and soldiers, and replaced the Israeli flag flying there with an Egyptian one. Shahat threw the Israeli standard down at the crowd, which tore it up and set it on fire.
Following consultations with senior diplomats, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday instructed former Israeli ambassador to Cairo, Shalom Cohen, to demand that Egyptian officials reinstate the flags at the Israeli institutions. Defense establishment officials who are in contact with Egyptian authorities made similar requests.
Jerusalem has said that Egypt's conduct borders on a violation of international law, and insists that the flag, a symbol of sovereignty, be restored to the Israeli Embassy and envoy's residence. Egypt has denied Israel's requests, saying that "the masses won't allow it."
The Supreme Military Council ruling Egypt has been working in recent days to contain the ire of demonstrators who have taken to the streets to protest the accidental killing of five Egyptian security officers in a firefight with Israel Defense Forces soldiers pursuing the terrorists behind last Thursday's deadly attack near Eilat. The coordinated, multi-pronged attack, in which terrorists infiltrated southern Israel from the Sinai Peninsula, left eight Israelis dead.
However, the outrage on the Egyptian street continues, with thousands protesting against the presence of Israeli diplomatic missions in Egypt. Activists on Wednesday called for a million-man protest outside of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo on Friday. The protesters' aim to demand the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in Cairo and the withdrawal of the Egyptian ambassador in Tel Aviv.
"The Zionist enemy must understand that we will no longer sell it gas, that the Zionist ambassador and his staff are not wanted here and that the peace treaty [between Israel and Egypt] must be abolished immediately," one of the protesters was quoted as telling Egyptian media.
Israel is concerned by the developments in Egypt, particularly considering that they follow an Israeli apology over the accidental killings of the Egyptian forces, which Cairo has said is not sufficient.
In addition, an initial report by the IDF into last week's deadly terror attack also revealed that at least some of the terrorists fired from Egyptian stations and donned Egyptian military uniforms.
However, Reuters reported that National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror said Israel has no intention of holding a joint investigation into the accidental killings, contrary to previous reports. Amidror was quoted as saying Israel would instead discuss the results of two separate investigations conducted by the two nations.
Meanwhile, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz on Wednesday said that the army intends to boost its presence and intelligence along the border with Egypt and to increase the resources available to authorities in Eilat to better protect the residents of southern Israel.
The IDF also continued its attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing Islamic Jihad leader Ismail al-Asmar, who was suspected of financing last week's terror attacks near Eilat, in an airstrike on his car on Tuesday. Officials in the defense establishment described Asmar as a "ticking time bomb" and claimed he was planning additional attacks.
Israel Air Force jets also struck two suspected terrorist cells in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, foiling at least one attempt to fire rockets into Israel.