The Israeli ambassador to Egypt and eight embassy workers reportedly visited Cairo on Wednesday, months after they were quietly returned to the Jewish state over security concerns.
According to Egyptian media reports, Ambassador David Govrin visited the country for a day, accompanied by a team of embassy employees.
The British Daily Telegraph reported in January that the embassy staff were removed from Egypt in late 2016. Govrin was now carrying out his duties from Jerusalem, although he hopes to return to Cairo, the report said.
“Due to security concerns we have limited the return of the Foreign Ministry embassy team to Cairo,” the Shin Bet said in a terse statement following the report in the Telegraph.
Govrin, who speaks fluent Arabic, took up his post in July 2016. He posted a video at the time on the internet in which he addressed the Egyptian people and spoke of his hopes for developing ties.
The Telegraph said Govrin’s departure was first reported by Egyptian political analyst Amin el-Mahdy in a post to his Facebook page. Mahdi said the recall was due to heightened tensions between Jerusalem and Cairo over the Gaza Strip and its border with Egypt.
“Why is the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, hiding from his people the details of his conflict with his Egyptian military junta and with his obedient servant the slaughterer El-Sissi?” Mahdy wrote in January in English as well as Arabic. “Why have he called back the entire Israeli diplomatic mission from Egypt three months ago, and never sent them back to Egypt?”
The Telegraph report noted that Israeli officials denied Govrin’s quiet exit was due to political pressure.
On September 9, 2011, several thousand protesters forcibly entered the Israeli embassy in Giza, Cairo, after breaking down a perimeter wall to the compound. The protests began in response to the inadvertent killing of five Egyptian security guards by IDF soldiers during an attempt to catch terrorists who had ambushed and killed eight Israelis along the Israel-Egypt border.
Egypt is battling extremist Islamic terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula, some of which are aligned with the Islamic State group. Hundreds of police and security forces have been killed in attacks that have also targeted civilian sites. There have also been deadly attacks inside Cairo.
Israel, which is a bitter enemy of the Hamas terrorist group in the neighboring Gaza Strip, sees Egypt as an important ally in the battle against Islamic militant groups in the region and the two countries have close security and intelligence ties.
Raphael Ahren and agencies contributed to this report.