CAIRO — Furious over a murky Israeli military operation that left five Egyptian security personnel dead at the border, the Egyptian Cabinet announced early today that it would summon the Israeli ambassador and demand an apology.
Al-Jazeera English reported that the government also will seek compensation for the families of the Egyptians killed in Thursday's raid along the border.
On Friday, top Egyptian politicians had demanded a full investigation and urged a swift government response, including diplomatic pressure and halting natural gas exports.
Skirmishes along the tense Egypt-Israel border flare up periodically, but this time the reaction from Cairo's political elite reflects a new reality: With authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak gone, Israel has few friends left in Egypt.
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That could mean an escalation of the already pervasive lawlessness in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, which shares a frontier with Israel and is mostly controlled by Bedouin tribes.
Hundreds of Egyptians protested Friday at the Israeli embassy in Cairo, and the crowds grew late into the evening, with witnesses reporting that protesters toppled concrete barricades and set off fireworks. Armored military vehicles were dispatched to the scene but left without incident.
"To Sinai we go by the millions!" protesters chanted. "Generation after generation, Israel is our enemy!"
The demonstration encapsulated the lingering anger over the Mubarak regime's close relationship with Israel, which is widely despised here as a former occupier of the Sinai that more recently has enforced a devastating blockade of Palestinians in neighboring Gaza. Fifty-four percent of Egyptians want their country's long-standing peace treaty with Israel annulled, according to a poll conducted by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center after the popular uprising that forced out Mubarak.
Egypt's interim military rulers lodged a formal complaint with Israel over the deaths and dispatched the army chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Sami Anan, to lead an investigation, according to the state news agency MENA.
The deadly raid Thursday was part of Israel's retaliation for an ambush that killed eight Israelis, six of them civilians, near the Egyptian border earlier that day.