Israelis warned to pay 'close attention' to Egypt riots

By Jennifer Lipman, January 27, 2011
Silvan Shalom

Silvan Shalom

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has issued a travel warning for its citizens in Egypt as mass anti-government protests entered a third day.

Yossi Levy, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the department has not instated a travel ban but that it is advising people to “pay close attention to developments”.

He said: “[People should] be very cautious and obey the instructions of security officers on the ground and keep their distance from demonstrations and the centre of town,”

Thousands of Israeli tourists go to Egypt every year, including to the cities of Cairo and Alexandria, where the violence has so far been concentrated.

The protests, directed against Egypt’s President of 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, have already prompted hundreds of arrests and several casualties.

Security forces have been out on the streets with tear gas and water cannons to stamp out the demonstrations.

A similar uprising in Tunisia earlier this month saw the country’s long-time leader flee to Saudi Arabia.

Silvan Shalom, Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister, emphasised that, to Israel, “Egypt is the most important country in the Arab world.

He said the government is closely monitoring the situation in its southern neighbour, which in 1979 became the first Arab nation to officially recognise Israel.

Mr Shalom added: “The mutual interests between the two countries are very very big and important.”

Last updated: 4:50pm, January 27 2011