Jerusalem, Sept. 13 — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is denouncing the assaults that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other consulate workers by Muslim protestors angered about a film that depicted the Prophet Mohammed in insulting ways.
Protests continued in Egypt on Thursday and spread to Gaza, Iraq and Yemen, where hundreds of demonstrators stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in capital of Sanaa, burned the American flag and chanted "death to America" and "death to Israel."
“The people of Israel grieve with the American people,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “If there's any people in the world that understands what Americans are going through, what they went through in 9/11, it's the people of Israel, who've been standing at the forefront of the battle against terrorism, who've lost loved ones and who deeply, deeply sympathize with the people of America at this time."
The film blamed for the string of riots was initially rumored to have been created by an American-Israeli. Butthose reports have since been conclusively debunked; the film’s creator has been identified as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian in California. The Associated Press determined that Basseley was the same person who was first identified as Sam Bacile.
The murdered U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was a veteran diplomat who served in several Middle Eastern countries including Israel. Before his appointment as ambassador, he had been special envoy to the Libyan rebels who overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi. He and the other three victims were killed when protesters fired a rocket on the diplomats’ car in Benghazi.
According to news reports, young demonstrators broke through the main gate of the compound that houses the U.S. consulate. Al-Jazeera footage showed demonstrators scaling the walls of the building.
Once inside the compound, the rioters burned the U.S. flag. Film on Al-Jazeera television showed demonstrators jumping up and down on the parapet of the building and scaling the walls.
Some American commentators were particularly upset at Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi’s perceived tardiness in condemning the attacks on the U.S. embassy. Morsi, who was a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, did issue a statement on Thursday in which he said:
“I see in Egypt and the Arab and Islamic world a severe anger toward the violations made by a very small number of individuals. They have insulted the prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him. We stand very strongly against this. We don’t agree with or approve this, and we stand against anyone who tries to raise such false slogans and create these disturbances, tension and hatred between populations.
“At the same time, we don’t accept, condone, or approve at all for there to be attacks on embassies, consulates or people, or killing in any way.”
The Muslim Brotherhood and other groups have called for a peaceful mass demonstration against the film after Friday prayers in Tahrir Square.