Israel watches its old alliances crumble

The overthrow of President Mubarak in Egypt, the estrangement of Turkey and a UN vote on Palestinian statehood combine to make an intractable set of problems.

Adrian Blomfield
12 Sep 2011

Secluded in an emergency operations bunker, long after darkness had fallen to mark the start of the Sabbath last Friday, Israel’s most powerful men had become convinced that history was about to repeat itself.

Hundreds of miles away, six intelligence officers, detailed to protect Israel’s embassy in Cairo, had barricaded themselves in the building’s strongroom. A mob of hammer-wielding Egyptians were closing in. The rioters had already broken down two of the strongroom’s doors and were now hammering on the third. Three of the Israelis drew their guns, preparing for a last stand.

Speaking to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister who had been patched through on a secure line, the most senior of the men, identified only as Jonathan, asked his commander-in-chief to deliver news of his capture or death to his wife in person, rather than by telephone.

For all involved, as Israeli officials later recounted, the drama threatened to become a reprise of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, when 52 US diplomats were held captive for 444 days after an Islamist mob had stormed the American mission in Tehran.

This time, the most feared outcome was averted – thanks to the intervention of the White House. Facing American threats of dire retribution if any of the Israelis was harmed, Egypt’s military rulers dispatched a team of commandos to rescue the trapped men, a mission completed in the nick of time…

The article continues at The Telegraph.

Comments are closed.