Israel apologizes to Egypt over diplomats’ eviction from church

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel apologized to Egypt for evicting three Egyptian diplomats from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

The diplomats were part of a group of Egyptians who were removed from the church during Saturday night Mass in advance of Easter Sunday according to the Coptic calendar. The group was led by Egypt’s deputy ambassador to Israel, its highest-ranking diplomatic official there.

Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin offered the verbal apology on Thursday, a day after Israel’s ambassador in Cairo, Yaakov Amitai, was summoned by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Amitai was issued a “strongly worded” complaint over the incident, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Amr Roshdy said, according to the Times of Israel.

Also during the meeting, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry criticized the detention of the grand mufti of Jerusalem by Israel Police and alleged airstrikes by Israel on targets in Syria, according to reports.   

Egypt reportedly also is demanding a written apology for the diplomatic incident.

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