Rockets from Gaza apparently targeting Israel landed across the border in Egypt yesterday amid tensions after the deaths of policemen on the border and protests outside Israel’s embassy.
Tensions between the Jewish state and the most populous Arab nation have surged since the deaths on Thursday of the police officers, killed as Israeli troops pursued militants responsible for deadly attacks near Eilat.
“Several rockets from the Gaza Strip landed this morning in Egyptian territory in the region west of the Rafah terminal, without causing casualties,” reports said.
A security official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed the report, but said the rockets could have been fired by mistake.
The Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees and the armed wing of Islamic Jihad said they had lobbed rockets at an Israeli army post near Kerem Shalom on the Israel-Gaza border, 2km from the Egyptian frontier.
Tensions in and around the Gaza Strip have soared since Thursday, when militants staged a series of bloody shooting attacks in the Negev desert, killing eight Israelis and prompting a wave of bloody tit-for-tat exchanges.
It also sparked a diplomatic crisis with Egypt after Cairo said five policemen were killed by Israeli fire as soldiers pursued gunmen involved in the Negev ambushes.
Egyptian state media reported on Saturday that the government had decided to recall its envoy to Tel Aviv and later said a senior Israeli envoy was summoned by the foreign minister to receive a protest note.
Israel said it had received no notification of the decision to withdraw the envoy.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the Jewish state “regrets” the deaths of the soldiers and would probe the killings and share the results with the Egyptian authorities.
However, Egypt dismissed the apology as insufficient as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo overnight to vent their anger. The number trickled down to 200 by yesterday afternoon.
Ahmed Shehat became a hero to an exultant crowd of Egyptians and many more online when he hauled down the Star of David flag atop Israel’s embassy in Cairo.
More than 1,000 people protested outside the Israeli embassy overnight and let off celebratory fireworks when Shehat clambered to the top floor of a high-rise housing the mission, replacing the flag with an Egyptian one.