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Sunday, September 18, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Israel withdraws all but security staff from embassy in Jordan

AMMAN — Israel, concerned over an Egyptian-style takeover, has significantly reduced its diplomatic presence in Jordan.


Diplomatic sources said Israel has withdrawn virtually its entire staff from the embassy in Amman. They said this included the ambassador and senior diplomats, leaving a security guard detail in the heavily-fortified compound.

"The Israelis are being very careful," a diplomatic source in Jordan said.

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The Israeli evacuation was ordered amid plans by the Islamic opposition to recruit up to one million people to storm the embassy in Amman's Rabiyeh district on late Sept. 15. Jordanian security forces, however, prevented about 300 protesters from reaching the embassy and no major incident was reported.

The sources said Israel's Foreign Ministry has maintained an alert for the embassy in Jordan as well as others in Asia and Africa, Middle East Newsline reported. On Sept. 10, about 1,000 Islamists attacked the Israeli embassy in Egypt and dozens of them ransacked the offices. Egyptian commandos were sent to extricate six Israeli security guards holed up in a room in the embassy.

The Islamic opposition has also demanded the ouster of the U.S. embassy in Jordan. On Sept. 14, about 70 protesters torched the American and Israeli flags outside the U.S. embassy in Amman.

The sources said Israel was expected to maintain a much smaller staff in Amman until tensions dissipated. They said the Jordanian government has assured Israel that the embassy would be protected.

"The Jordanians are very serious, because they understand that if the Islamists succeed against the Israelis, then the current regime is next," the diplomat said.

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