CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt recalled its ambassador from Israel on Wednesday after Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip killed Hamas’s top military commander and at least six other Palestinians, presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said.
“President Mohamed Mursi has followed the Israeli brutal assault in which a number of martyrs and sons of the Palestinian people were killed,” Yasser Ali said in a statement aired on television.
“On this basis he has recalled the Egyptian ambassador from Israel; has ordered the Egyptian representative at the United Nations to call for an emergency meeting at the Security Council ... and summoned the Israeli ambassador in Egypt in protest over the assault,” the statement added.
“On behalf of the Egyptian people the president gives his condolences to the Palestinian people over their martyrs,” Ali said.
Egypt has recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv on previous occasions, including August, 2011 when Israeli forces killed five Egyptian security personnel along the border while pursing gunmen.
Egypt also withdrew its envoy during Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon and heavy Israeli shelling of the Gaza Strip in 2000.
Egypt’s new Islamist government has said it honored the 1979 peace agreement with Israel, a ground-breaking event in Middle East history, but analysts say growing anti-Israeli sentiment in Egypt, stoked by the assault on Gaza, would increase pressure from Islamists on Mursi.
Around 100 people protested near Tahrir Square in central Cairo on Wednesday against the Israeli strikes in Gaza, chanting: “From Tahrir to Palestine, it is one people not two.”
Egypt’s state news agency said Hamas leadership hailed Mursi’s decisions.
Reporting by Marwa Awad; Editing by Michael Roddy