Israel reopened its embassy in Cairo Wednesday, exactly four years after a mob ransacked the building, forcing Israel to airlift its diplomats out of the country, Israeli site Ynetnews reported. Diplomats have been working out of the ambassador’s residence, which Wednesday was recognized officially as the Israeli Embassy until a new building is constructed.
A delegation led by the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s director general, Dore Gold, visited Cairo to mark the occasion. Gold put up a mezuzah — a parchment with verses from the Torah enclosed in a case that marks Jewish homes and offices. An Israeli flag was also raised following a ceremony that closed with the singing of both the Israeli and Egyptian national anthems.
Gold stressed that “Egypt would always be the biggest and most important country in our region, and there is no wonder it is customary in the Arab world to call it ‘Om El Donya’ – ‘Mother of the World,'” Ynetnews reported.
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) September 9, 2015
The embassy was closed in September 2011, amid the chaos that followed the overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak. The embassy was stormed by about a thousand protesters who ransacked the building and tore down one of its outer walls, Al Jazeera English reported at the time. Protesters replaced the Israeli flag with Egyptian and Palestinian ones.
But a lot has changed since then. Egypt has seen the election and one-year rule of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, ended by a military coup led by Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is now president.
Sisi, while criticized for his autocratic style of rule, is praised by his supporters for restoring relative calm following years of economic and political instability. He has also sought close relations with the West, and has worked to stem the militant Islamist movement Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, from smuggling goods and weapons to and from Egypt and Gaza.
“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abed Fattah al-Sisi, we managed to thwart off the threats and we are working together towards stability and prosperity in the Middle East,” Gold said during Wednesday’s ceremony.