The Rafah terror attack which took the lives of 16 Egyptian soldiers breaking their Ramadan fast Sunday evening shocked Egyptians and angered them. “We want to know who did this!” a furious man told Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera. In Sinai, Egyptian residents joined soldiers in blocking roads to and from Gaza, rushing to donate blood.

But public anger quickly shifted to President Mohammed Morsi, who did not attend the soldiers’ mass funeral in Cairo on Tuesday. The official explanation given was his wish not to politicize the event, but local observers claimed he decided to eschew the funeral due to the real possibility of physical violence.

Fearful of losing control of the street Morsi had to act, and act he did

Following the funeral, the Muslim Brotherhood issued a harsh statement, warning that “thugs” have incited violence against the president in the media, even threatening his life. On Monday night, shots were fired at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo’s Maqtam neighborhood.

Fearful of losing control of the street, Morsi had to act, and act he did. The president’s decision to sack key members of Egypt’s upper security echelon even before a thorough investigation of the attack was completed served a dual purpose: to placate the public and to purge the security establishment of Mubarak-era officials at a time when Egyptians want to see heads roll.

The president’s decision to sack key members of Egypt’s upper security echelon even before a thorough investigation of the attack was completed serves a dual purpose: to placate the public and to purge the security establishment of Mubarak-era officials at a time when Egyptians want to see heads roll

Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali kept Egyptian media waiting for five hours on Wednesday afternoon, Al-Ahram reported, while Morsi met with members of the National Security Council. Then, following presidential orders, Ali insisted on interrupting the regular television programming to read out the statement sacking the security officials live on air. It was a modern-day public execution.

Appointed by Mubarak shortly before his ouster, Murad Muwafi, Egypt’s chief of intelligence, was the most senior official to be sent home. After admitting that Israel had given Egyptian security detailed intelligence about the attack but Egypt disregarded it — refusing to believe that “a Muslim would kill his Muslim brother” — Muwafi had to go.

Ali, Morsi’s spokesman, denied public allegations that the recent release of elderly Islamist prisoners had anything to do with the attack on Rafah, Egypt’s MENA news agency reported.

Morsi himself remained tight-lipped following the move, but Freedom and Justice, the Muslim Brotherhood party he resigned from upon taking office, rallied behind him. Party official Essam Al-Arian claimed the security shakeup was “a step in the way to completing the revolutionary goals.”

“The decisions bear a message to every official: Egypt has a president and a people with desires,” he wrote on his Twitter account. “If you do not fulfill the people’s wishes — leave your positions or await dismissal. No to shaky hands.”

The Freedom and Justice Facebook page began releasing supportive statements from various politicians and intellectuals, including former presidential candidate Abd Al-Munim Abu-Futuh and novelist Alaa Aswani. The party even called on the public to spend the night across from the Ittihadiya presidential palace to show its support for Morsi during the final, holiest period of Ramadan.

Morsi could not have carried out the sweeping overhaul without the support of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). It was defense minister and SCAF head Hussein Tantawi who Morsi appointed to find a substitute for sacked Military Police chief Muhammad Badin.

“Slow down with your happiness,” Naggar wrote on his Twitter account. “The future will be worse, and the situation will not change by moving around a few pieces on the playing board.”

But former MP Mostafa Naggar tried to chill the enthusiasm of Morsi supporters Wednesday.

“Slow down with your happiness,” Naggar wrote on his Twitter account. “The future will be worse, and the situation will not change by moving around a few pieces on the playing board.”