Tel Aviv City Hall lit with Egypt flag in solidarity with Copt terror victims
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Tel Aviv City Hall lit with Egypt flag in solidarity with Copt terror victims

In first such gesture toward Arab country, municipality building shows Eagle of Saladin after 29 Christian Copts killed by IS gunman

The Tel Aviv Municipality building lit in the colors of the Egyptian flag on May 28, 2017 to show solidarity with Christian Copts killed in a terror attack near Cairo a day earlier. (Tel Aviv Municipality)
The Tel Aviv Municipality building lit in the colors of the Egyptian flag on May 28, 2017 to show solidarity with Christian Copts killed in a terror attack near Cairo a day earlier. (Tel Aviv Municipality)

The Tel Aviv municipality building was lit in the colors of the Egyptian flag Saturday night, in a gesture of solidarity with Israel’s neighbor a day after a deadly shooting attack near Cairo.

The building had been illuminated in various flags following other international terror attacks — on Tuesday it was lit in the colors of the Union Jack after a deadly suicide bombing in Manchester — but the latest tribute is the first time the gesture has been made toward an Arab country.

Twenty-nine people were killed Friday morning when a bus carrying Christian Copts pilgrims was shot at by masked gunmen in the Egyptian Minya province, south of Cairo. According to the Egyptian cabinet, 13 of the victims remained hospitalized in Cairo on Saturday evening.

The Islamic State jihadist group claimed responsibility for the attack, which came on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Relatives of killed Coptic Christians grieve during the funeral at Abu Garnous Cathedral in the north Minya town of Maghagha, Egypt on May 26, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)
Relatives of killed Coptic Christians grieve during the funeral at Abu Garnous Cathedral in the north Minya town of Maghagha, Egypt on May 26, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)

The attack drew immediate condemnation from Israel.

Israel “strongly condemns the painful terror attack in Egypt and sends the condolences of the Israeli people to [Egyptian] President [Abdel-Fattah] Sissi and to the Egyptian people,” a Friday statement from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“There is no difference between terrorism harming Egypt and terrorism harming other countries. Terror will be beaten more quickly if all countries work against it together,” the statement said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also issued a statement condemning the attack, as did the Islamist terror group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Writing on Twitter Saturday night, Tel Aviv Mayor Run Huldai said the decision to light the municipality building was meant to send a message that “those seeking peace will not rest until such horrific acts will end.”

Egypt’s Copts, the Middle East’s largest Christian community, have repeatedly complained of discrimination, as well as outright attacks, at the hands of extremists in the Muslim-majority population.

Over the past decades, they have been the immediate targets of Islamic extremists. They rallied behind the country’s general-turned-president, Sissi, in 2013 when he ousted Islamist predecessor Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood group. Attacks on Christian homes, businesses and churches subsequently surged, especially in the country’s south, traditionally Egypt’s Christian heartland.

Friday’s attack was the third against Christians in Egypt in six months. In April, twin suicide bombings struck two churches on Palm Sunday, and in December, a suicide bombing targeted a Cairo church. The attacks left over 75 dead and scores wounded. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility and vowed more attacks.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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