Egyptian troops fired into the air on Friday to repel protesters outside the Israeli embassy demanding the severance of ties with the Jewish state and its ambassador’s expulsion a reporter said.
The protesters, massed on a bridge next to the building, fled in panic on hearing the shots before regrouping in the same place.
Others poured gasoline in two stripes and a Star of David on the tarmac, in the shape of the Israeli flag, and set it alight.
The protest — which would have been banned under the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak — was timed to coincide with establishment of Israel 63 years ago, commonly referred to in Arabic as the Nakba or “catastrophe.”
They protestors were joined by demonstrators who marched from Tahrir Square in central Cairo, where thousands had rallied in support of Palestinians and against sectarianism in Egypt.
At one point, army and police officers were showered with flyers thrown from the bridge which read: “Stemming from our belief in the Palestinian cause, and the desire to free the Palestinian people, a segment of Egyptian youth has decided to take responsibility for reviving this cause.”
Protesters also called for the end of gas deals with Israel, the release of all Palestinian detainees, an end to the Gaza blockade and called on the head of the military to expel the Israeli ambassador.
Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities blocked access to the Sinai peninsula to prevent a march from Cairo to Gaza.
Witnesses on board one bus heading to the Rafah border crossing reported that they were turned back and said they planned to try again yesterday.
The army also stepped up security around the peninsula, a security official said.
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who is being investigated for selling gas to Israel for low prices and involvement in the deaths of anti-regime protesters, was seen as a key alley of Israel.
The military has said it would uphold the country’s treaty with Israel, but the caretaker government has signaled its intention to open its border with Gaza.