Egypt was preparing to hold a full-honors military funeral Wednesday for the country's former autocratic president Hosni Mubarak, who for decades was the face of stability in the Middle East but who was ousted from power in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that swept much of the region.
A few dozen Mubarak supporters, clad in black and carrying posters of the former president, gathered in the morning at a mosque complex in a the eastern New Cairo neighborhood, where Mubarak's body was to be brought for the funeral service later in the day.
The 91-year-old Mubarak died on Tuesday at a Cairo military hospital. He was admitted to hospital in Jan. 21 and underwent surgery, after which he was treated in intensive care.
To the outside world, Mubarak the strongman symbolized so much of Egypt's modern history, but his rule of nearly 30 years ended after hundreds of thousands of young Egyptians rallied for 18 days of unprecedented street protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square and elsewhere in 2011, forcing him to step down.
Perhaps ironically, Mubarak's funeral service was to take place at the Tantawi Mosque in eastern Cairo, named for now retired Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who headed the military council that ran Egypt following Mubarak's ouster and until the election of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2012.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi was expected to attend the funeral service, which was to be followed by the burial at the cemetery in Cairo's Heliopolis, Mubarak's home district for most of his rule and where he lived until his death.
Gulf Arab leaders were also expected to attend the service.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday praised Mubarak for his commitment to peace and the upkeep of bilateral relations between Israel and Egypt.
"In the name of Israel's citizens and government, I'd like to express deep sorrow over the passing of president Hosni Mubarak," Netanyahu said, calling the long-serving Egyptian leader "a personal friend... who brought his people to peace and security [and] to peace with Israel."
President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday sent a letter of condolence to Sisi in the name of the State of Israel.
“On behalf of the State of Israel and personally, I would like to extend my deepest condolences on the passing of President Hosni Mubarak to you, to Madame Suzanne Mubarak and their sons, and to the people of Egypt," the letter said.
"President Mubarak was a true son of Egypt and a devoted servant to its people. His lifetime of service contributed greatly to the development of Egypt and to the stability of the region."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also hailed Mubarak's support for the "Palestinian cause."
A statement from Abbas's office said he mourned the death "with great sorrow" and hailed the "late president's positions in support of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people in achieving their freedom and independence."
In 1979 Egypt, under President Anwar Sadat, became the first Arab state to make peace with Israel and establish full diplomatic relations.
As part of that accord, Israel later withdrew from the Sinai peninsula, which it had captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.