According to Netanyahu, it was a major American intervention — with other reports mentioning Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton as well as Obama — that made the difference between Egyptian inaction and action to rescue the embassy security guards behind the “last door” separating them from the Egyptian mob. Apparently Cairo isn’t screening out calls from Washington yet.
What really transpired behind the scenes of the dramatic rescue of six Israelis who were stranded in the Israeli Embassy in Cairo? Although Israel praised the action undertaken by Egyptian forces and its commandoes for rescuing the stranded Israelis from a fanatical mob, it turns out that there had been a severe lack of coordination even amongst the highest ranks.
Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak tried to reach the head of the ruling Supreme Military Council Mohammed Tantawi over the phone overnight, but the Egyptians said they were “unable to locate him”.
The embassy assault lasted 13 hours.
It appears that only the swift intervention of US President Barack Obama prevented a catastrophe from unfolding. “I would say it was a decisive moment — fateful, I would even say,” Netanyahu said on Saturday evening.
“He said, ‘I will do all that I can,’ and he did; he applied all of the means and influence of the United States of America, which are certainly substantial. And I think we owe him special thanks.”
On Saturday evening, a senior Israeli official said, “Such things are not supposed to take place in the circumstances that had evolved.”
Military sources, meanwhile, revealed that the stranded Israeli security guards had been evacuated from the embassy while wearing the traditional Arab headdress keffiyeh and Muslim garments knows as Jalabiyas.
During the crisis, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had also called Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr to urge Egypt to meet its Vienna Convention obligations to protect diplomatic property, a senior State Department official said.
Barak spoke to US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and with Dennis Ross, President Obama’s emissary to the Middle East. Barak, who discussed the situation in Cairo with Netanyahu and heads of the defense establishment, asked the American officials to help defend the Israeli Embassy against the protesters.