Five years ago during the height of the Egyptian revolution, the staff of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo was forced to barricade itself inside the building, as hordes of bloodthirsty Egyptians converged on the building and threatened to break down the barricades and invade the building. The mob was held off by Egyptian police and soldiers, and eventually Egyptian soldiers broke through and rescued the Israelis.
The reason for the Egyptians’ cooperation, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu revealed during a ceremony in advance of Memorial Day, which begins Tuesday night, is that Israel threatened to come in and save the diplomats itself if Egypt did not act to prevent the near-certain massacre. “We take great efforts to protect our diplomats abroad,” said Netanyahu. “Our efforts have saved many people – not only our own, but those of other countries as well.
“A few years ago, we faced a situation where our diplomats were under siege in Cairo,” Netanyahu said. “A wild mob came to slaughter our people, and that night we used all the tools at our disposal to prevent this, including action by the IDF to save our people. This threat changed the situation, and under the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood, the situation was resolved.”
Last September, Israel reopened its embassy in Cairo, which had been closed ever since 2011 when the incident referred to by Netanyahu occurred.
The previously reported version of this episode was that Netanyahu had raised the possibility of an IDF rescue mission during discussions with U.S. President Barack Obama but that the Egyptian commando force managed to rescue the staff first.