(photo credit: Courtesy)
Visiting Arab states is a dangerous act for Israeli citizens, but the prolonged
arrest of Ilan Grapel by Egyptian authorities is unlikely to become a trend,
security experts told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Asked whether the
Grapel and Gilad Schalit affairs made it more dangerous to visit Arab countries,
Boaz Ganor, founder and executive director of the International Policy Institute
for Counter-Terrorism, said, “Visits by Israeli citizens to an Arab country were
dangerous acts before the Grapel and Schalit affairs, and will be dangerous
after them, both for the visitor himself and Israel.”
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Ganor added that
Israel should weigh a ban on such visits which would also apply to those who
hold dual citizenship, such as Grapel.
“Alternatively, they could be made
to sign a declaration before their departure, stating that they are aware of the
risks they are taking, and that Israel will not be obligated to secure their
release,” Ganor said.
Nevertheless, he added, Arab states were not likely
to adopt the arrest of Israelis as a tactic to extort Israel.
Schalit was kidnapped by a terrorist organization that “will continue to try and
kidnap soldiers and civilians,” the Grapel affair was designed to satisfy the
Egyptian masses, and was a stage-managed incident meant to use “the traditional
rival – Israel – to distract Egyptians from their real problems,” Ganor
Grapel’s release was already decided on following American and
Israeli pressure, but the Egyptian government required “a concrete tradeoff to
placate domestic opinion. This is how a minor deal was developed for
Yehuda Ben-Meir, of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National
Security Studies, said it would be difficult for an Arab state “with which we
have relations, like Egypt or Jordan, or informal relations, like Morocco or
Qatar, to just arrest someone if there is not at least some sort of unusual
behavior that can be used” to fabricate a spying story.
On the other
hand, an Israeli who travels to radical states like Syria, Iran or Yemen, is
risking his life “and should not complain” if he finds himself in custody, Ben-
Ely Karmon, a senior counter-terrorism researcher from the ICT,
added that Cairo has a record of arresting innocent Israelis such as Azzam Azzam
and Ouda Tarabin and framing them as spies to prove to its anti-Israel public it
is looking after state security.
Addressing the threat of kidnapping
Israelis abroad posed by terrorist organizations, Karmon said Hamas “is still not
ready” to take such action, but that “Hezbollah is certainly interested and
able” to do so.