A car stops near a fire barricade set by fugitives at the entrance of el-Sheikh Zoyed city in North Sinai. Cairo is struggling to assert its grip on the isolated desert peninsula. After the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in February, the local population, resentful of the government in Cairo, quickly exploited a power vacuum.
Defense Minister Barak went on Israel's Channel 2 television to clarify: 'I did not apologize to Egypt.'
Last Thursday, gunmen crossed over to southern Israel from the Sinai border regions and launched coordinated attacks that killed eight people. Israeli forces killed five of the gunmen along the border and launched airstrikes aimed at Palestinian groups in nearby Gaza. The airstrikes killed five militants, as well as a 13-year-old boy and another child. Israeli pursuit of gunmen on the ground also resulted in the deaths of five Egyptian security personnel. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed regret for the Egyptian deaths and announced an investigation to be conducted with Egypt. Cairo reneged on its threat to pull the Egyptian ambassador from Israel, and Israeli President Shimon Peres responded in a show of good faith.
Peres held a Ramadan dinner earlier on Sunday for senior Arab officials at his home in Jerusalem, where he told Egyptian diplomat Mustafa al-Kuni he had great respect for the Egyptian people, according to the Israeli Ynet news website.
The Egyptian state news agency said Peres had apologized to the Egyptian ambassador but that was not confirmed by Israel.
Defense Minister Barak went on Israel's Channel 2 television to clarify: “I did not apologize to Egypt.” Hundreds of Egyptians mobbed the Israeli embassy in Cairo, and the government announced plans to root out Sinai gunmen and develop the region along Israel’s border with the aim of reducing unemployment and resentment among indigenous Bedouin tribesmen.
Sinai tourism is down.