'Grapel to be released Thursday morning at Taba border'

American-Israeli to be traded for 25 Egyptian prisoners; Ouda Tarabin won't be released as part of the deal, Egyptian paper 'Al Ahram' reports.

October 26, 2011 15:20
2 minute read.
Ilan Grapel in an interview to Channel 10 in 2006

Ilan Grapel_311. (photo credit: Channel 10 News)


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Dual US-Israeli citizen Ilan Grapel will be returned to Israel at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram reported Wednesday morning.

Grapel, held in Egypt on spying charges since June, will be transferred across the Taba border near Eilat in exchange for 25 Egyptians held in Israeli prisons, according to the report.

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MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) and right wing activist Baruch Marzel on Wednesday filed a petition with the High Court against Thursday's prisoner exchange, Army Radio reported.

"It cannot be that every time an anarchist tries to start an Arab Spring we break Israeli law and release prisoners. I want a three-party deal in which the Americans release Pollard, the Egyptians release Grapel, and then we'll release these prisoners," Ben-Ari said in the report.

This most recent prisoner exchange comes just nine days after Israel and Hamas carried out a historic prisoner swap to release captive Israeli tank gunner Gilad Schalit.

On Tuesday Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's 14-man security cabinet unanimously approved the prisoner exchange with Egypt.

A statement put out by the Prime Minister's Office said Israel agreed to the Egyptian request for the release 25 Egyptian prisoners, including three minors.  While the list of the prisoners has not yet been released, they are not believed to be security prisoners, but rather Egyptians in Israeli jails for carrying out criminal acts such as smuggling from Sinai into Israel.

According to the statement, Netanyahu directed the officials dealing with the matter to make all efforts to also free Ouda Tarabin, another Israeli citizen in Egyptian jails. Tarabin, a Beduin shepherd, has been held for 11 years on espionage charges after illegally entering Egypt.

Al Ahram reported that Egypt has rejected Israel's requests and will not release Tarabin at this time.

Tarabin's attorney, Mahmoud a-Sana Tarabin, told Israel Radio Wednesday morning that the Israeli authorities had hinted to Tarabin's family that there were "hidden matters that they were quietly working on."

The lawyer added that Odeh made just one mistake - crossing the border into Sinai to visit his sister without a passport or identification- and he was sent to prison for five to ten years without standing trial.

"Being a Beduin" was seemingly the only reason Tarabin had not yet been released, the lawyer opined during the interview.

According to Al Ahram, Egyptian security in the Sinai peninsula will be very tight on Thursday in preparation for the prisoner exchange.

To prevent interference from terrorist elements in Sinai and along the border with Israel, which operate against both the Israeli and Egyptian governments, Grapel will reportedly be transferred to Taba in a heavily armored security detail, which will also be used to transfer the released Egyptians back to Cairo.

Grapel was arrested on June 12 and initially held on charges of spying for Israel. These charges were later downgraded to incitement.

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