Israeli journalists released in Cairo


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Four Israeli journalists arrested in Cairo were released as rival protests in Egypt turned violent.

The reporters — three from Israel’s Channel 2 and one from Nazareth — were released Wednesday night after being arrested earlier in the day for violating the curfew in Cairo and entering the capital city on tourist visas, according to reports.

"We call on all Israeli reporters arriving in Cairo to remain alert, act responsibly and honor the place’s rules," the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

On Wednesday night, automatic weapons fire was heard in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo after anti- and pro-Egyptian government protesters were ordered to leave the area. Tanks were seen moving into the area.

Violence had escalated during the day with Molotov cocktails burning surrounding buildings and pro- and anti-Mubarak demonstrators attacking each other with metal rods. Egyptian police used water cannons to disperse the crowds and put out fires.

Some 600 protesters were reported injured in the street violence, and one policeman was killed, according to reports.

Earlier in the day, the demonstrators in the square threw rocks at each other and tore down protest banners. The army used tear gas to control the crowds, according to reports.

It was the first time that President Hosni Mubarak’s supporters have taken to the streets in large numbers since the demonstrations began nine days ago.

In an address to the Egyptian people Tuesday night, Mubarak said he would not run in the next elections, scheduled for September, and said he would lead an orderly transition of power.

The army on Wednesday took to state television to urge protesters to leave the streets and return to everyday life.

 "Your message has arrived, your demands became known," military spokesman Ismail Etman said in an address. "You are capable of bringing normal life to Egypt."

Also Wednesday, Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he would step down at the end of his presidential term, ending three decades in office. Saleh’s term expires in 2013. Saleh also promised not to pass on his leadership position to his son.

"I present these concessions in the interests of the country. The interests of the country come before our personal interests," Saleh said Wednesday in an address to his parliament. "No extension, no inheritance, no resetting the clock."

Saleh made the announcement the day before a planned "Day of Rage" planned by the opposition and inspired by anti-government rallies in Tunisia and Egypt. 

Last week, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Sanaa at the city’s university and downtown following several days of smaller protests by students and opposition groups calling for Saleh’s ouster.

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