Attack on Israeli embassy went on for many hours while Egyptian police did nothing to stop it

Violating the most fundamental norms and obligations of international law, Egyptian security forces allowed the storming of the embassy to proceed for hours before they finally started to crack down—and there are doubts about whether the crackdown was serious. The below is from a September 10 story in the New York Times (via Jihad Watch). Drudge has several more links.

That strategy [of accommodating street protesters] proved disastrous Friday night when thousands of protesters attacked the Israeli Embassy. They first methodically demolished a week-old protective wall as Egyptian security forces stood by. A few scaled the building and tore down the Israeli flag, while about two dozen broke into the offices and began tossing binders of documents into the street. And when a battalion of riot police finally began filling the streets with tear gas, the protesters fought back with rocks and Molotov cocktails for most of the night.

Egyptian officials said Saturday that at least two protesters had died from the clashes around the embassy—one from a bullet wound and the other from a heart attack—while as many as 1,200 had been injured and at least 19 arrested. Signaling its new crackdown, the military council said Saturday that all those arrested would be sent to military trials instead of civilian courts.

But at least one protester who had broken into the embassy early Saturday morning said that Egyptian military police had forced him out but then let him go free, raising questions about the consistency of the military’s new crackdown.

Israeli officials, for their part, said Saturday that six members of their staff had been trapped inside the embassy until an early morning rescue by Egyptian commandos. “This went on for 13 hours and there was real concern for the safety and lives of our people,” an Israeli official said. “The mob penetrated the embassy and at the end there was only one wall separating it from six of our people.”

The Israeli ambassador and about 85 diplomats and their family members were evacuated at dawn. Only one diplomat, a deputy ambassador, remained, and he took refuge in the protection of the American Embassy, diplomats familiar with the arrangements said.

Diplomats said allowing the invasion of a foreign embassy was an extraordinary breach of Egypt’s international commitments that immediately raised new security concerns at other embassies around the city. “It has led to a complete loss of credibility in the government internationally from all directions,” a Western diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the situation.

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Alexis Zarkov writes:

Article 22, section 2 of the of the Vienna Conference on Diplomatic Relations states,

The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.

If the police did nothing, then Egypt is in violation of the conference, and Israel should bring an action in the UN. Is an attack on an embassy an act of war? I leave that to others to ponder.

Attacks on embassies are rare, and all but two have occurred since 1946. Since 1946, embassies throughout the world have suffered a total of 76 attacks, or about twelve attacks per decade. Currently we have about 200 sovereign states, but let’s use 150 since many of these states have come into existence over the last 30 years. So on a country basis, attacks occur at a rate of 8 per country per 1,000 years. Israel has suffered 7 (including the recent one) attacks since 1948, or 110 attacks per 1,000 years. The 76 attacks were confined to 17 countries, and only the U.S. and France have suffered more attacks than Israel. No matter how you look at it, numerically Israel is a target. In so many ways. Israel is a besieged country.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 11, 2011 01:35 AM | Send

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