Grapel, Hasson and Molcho 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Almagor, a group that represents victims of terrorism, said that half of the 25 Egyptian prisoners to be released in exchange for US-Israeli citizen Ilan Grapel Thursday are, contrary to official claims, security prisoners.
Grapel, a 27-year-old law student who has been held in Egypt since June 12 on charges of spying for Israel, is set to be freed pending the approval of a prisoner exchange at a Security Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
may be freed same day as Schalit'
wary of Egyptian public's response to Grapel deal'
charges Grapel with setting fire to police stations'
In a statement, Almagor claimed that half the prisoners had provided weapons to terrorists, while the other half were involved in smuggling drugs.
"The Israeli government is turning herself into a Mediterranean bazaar for her kidnapped citizens, making them a living commodity for terrorists and governments," the group said.
Almagor called on Israeli citizens to avoid traveling in Muslim countries, to avoid the possibility of being kidnapped or arrested for political purposes. "Israelis traveling in Turkey and Jordan may find themselves in a similar situation as Grapel, and consider these events as a travel warning."
Egyptian media had reported that the three of the prisoners are minors
who had been acquitted of illegally crossing into Israel to sell
cigarettes, but remained imprisoned after prosecutors appealed the
with the help of the United States, reached a deal with Egypt for the young
man’s freedom, in exchange for the release of 25 Egyptian prisoners
held in Israeli jails.
family lives in Queens, is a student at Emory Law School in Atlanta and has
served in the Israeli army.
He had gone to Cairo to work in a legal aid
Egypt accused Grapel of being an Israeli spy and inciting
protesters against Egypt’s military. Israel and the Grapel family have denied
News of his possible release first surfaced just before
Egypt helped broker a prisoner- exchange deal between Israel and Hamas to free
US Rep. Gary Ackerman
(D-New York) said, “Ilan’s release is terrific news.” Grapel had interned in
Ackerman’s office and his family lives in the politician’s district in
Ackerman had actively lobbied for Grapel’s release and had
personally contacted the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the prime
minister of Israel and the US State Department. Ackerman thanked officials in
Egypt, Israel and the US for their efforts on Ilan’s behalf.
beginning, I was assured by the highest levels in Israel that in no way did Ilan
have anything to do with espionage, the Mossad or any other type of spy
agency," said Ackerman. Grapel "just found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Throughout last week conflicting reports emerged over the
scope of the deal, with some Egyptian news outlets reporting Israel would
release as few as 19 prisoners, and others predicting all 81 Egyptians held in
Israel would be freed.
News of the impending deal has drawn comprehensive
coverage in Egypt, a country engulfed in turmoil since president Hosni Mubarak’s
ouster in February. In addition to Mubarak’s ongoing trial, preparations are
underway for Egyptians’ first election in decades and sectarian violence has
raised tension between Muslims and Coptic Christians.
On Sunday, Egypt’s
state-run daily Al-Akhbar
daily ran the lead headline, “Imminent agreement
between Egypt and Israel regarding Ilan the spy.”
On Monday, conflicting
reports emerged over whether a second Israeli citizen would be included in the
deal: Ouda Tarabin – a Beduin shepherd held for over a decade on spying charges
after illegally entering Egypt.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal
Palmor said Israel is “doing its best” to ensure Tarabin’s release.