The head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said that "he gave the Zionist enemy a slap in the face," when he canceled the inauguration of a restored Cairo synagogue two weeks ago, Army Radio reported on Sunday.
"Israel is the Zionist enemy, and I gave this enemy a strong slap in the face," said Doctor Zahi Hawass.
Hawass, dubbed the "Egyptian Indiana Jones," is known worldwide as responsible for all the ancient sites in Egypt including the pyramids and the pharaohs' treasures.
Throughout the years, Zahi Hawass has expressed his stance against normalization of ties with Israel, but has yet to refer to Israel as "the enemy."
Two weeks ago, Egypt has canceled the inauguration of a restored synagogue citing the Israeli oppression of Muslims in the occupied territories as well as excesses by Jews during an earlier ceremony at the synagogue
Egypt's SCA restored the ruined Ben Maimon synagogue in Cairo's ancient Jewish quarter and was set to unveil it to the press following its rededication a week earlier in a private ceremony.
Hawass said in a statement that the cancellation of ceremony came following "provocative" activities by Jews at rededication, including drinking alcoholic beverages, as well as "aggression by Israeli authorities against Muslim sanctuaries."