An umbrella group of Jewish lawyers sent a letter this week to Egypt’s new
justice minister calling for the release of imprisoned Israeli Beduin Ouda
Tarabin, amid reports from Cairo of a deal underway that would free him in
exchange for 83 Egyptians in Israeli jails.
The Egyptians held in Israel
are members of Beduin tribes in Sinai. Israel Radio in Arabic reported that new
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy met in El-Arish last week with Sinai Beduin
representatives and said that the men will be freed by Id al- Adha, which falls
Winning the release of the 83 prisoners in return for Tarabin
could be a way, it is believed, for Morsy to improve his relationship and that
of the central government in Cairo with the Sinai Beduin.
The letter to
Ahmed Mekki from the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
asked the Egyptian minister to intervene “in the name of justice.” The group
enclosed a letter they sent to Morsy upon becoming president in July, to which
they did not receive any response.
The letter to Morsy was sent through
the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv.
“Recently we received a letter from the
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at the Human Rights Council where it was
clearly stated that Mr. Tarabin’s incarceration, legal process and
sentences are wrongful,” the letter read, calling for Egypt to release him
Tarabin, an Israeli Beduin shepherd, was arrested after
illegally crossing the border into Egypt in late 1999, and sentenced to 15 years
on charges of spying. Both Israel and Tarabin’s family have denied the
American-Israeli student Ilan Grapel was released in October
2011 from Egyptian prison in exchange for 25 Egyptians in Israeli
Efforts at the time to include Tarabin in that deal were