Tension Grows For Israel With Egypt, The Arab League and Palestinian Authority
It has been a tense weekend for the Israeli government as they sought to contain the fall-out from the killing of five Egyptian policemen last week. By Sunday, The Arab League had met to discuss what should be done about the deteriorating relations between Israel and Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority.
Eight Israelis were killed in gun attacks in the Sinai last Thursday, but the resulting pursuit of the gunmen ended in the killing of the five Egyptian policemen. Now Israel is facing a diplomatic row over the incident.
In Cairo, the news of the policemen's deaths unleashed a wave of anti-Israeli feeling. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Israeli embassy after Friday prayers, waving Palestinian flags and chanting "Death to Israel".
By Saturday, the Egyptian government had recalled their ambassador to Israel, the first time it has recalled an ambassador in over a decade.
After days of tension, defence minister Ehud Barak eventually apologised for the deaths, saying that "Israel is sorry over the deaths of the Egyptian officers". He has launched a military investigation and a joint inquiry, as demanded by the Egyptian government, who believed his apology to be insufficient.
Egypt was formally one of Israel's only allies in the region and is a strategically vital neighbour, hence the gravity of this diplomatic froideur. Egypt has been a worry for Israel since February when President Mubarak, generally seen as a friend of Israel, was toppled.
The fallout from Thursday's attack in Israel and Gaza itself grew more grave as Israel and Hamas militants exchanged rocket attacks and air strikes into Sunday. 15 Palestinians and one Israeli have died since Friday morning.
The Arab League held an emergency meeting to discuss the worsening crisis in Cairo on Sunday, taking the opportunity to condemn Israel's ongoing air strikes in Gaza. Its 22-member countries from across the Arab world issued a robust response to the Israeli air strikes.
"The United Nations has to take procedures to stop the Israeli offensive on Gaza," Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said. However, Israel has shown no indication of easing its military response.
Tension in the region is sure only to increase over the next month as the Palestinians make a bid for statehood at the UN Security Council on the 20th September.