Rep. of Israeli in Egypt jail since 2000: Family isn't Jewish, so no visits from Netanyahu

Ouda Tarabin, a Beduin Israeli, was arrested in 1999 and charged with espionage after crossing into Egypt.

Beduin women in Rahat, Israel. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Beduin women in Rahat, Israel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The lawyer representing Ouda Tarabin, an Israeli citizen from the Beduin community who has been imprisoned in Egypt for 15 years, said Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not visited the relatives of Tarabin because they are not Jews.
In the report by Israel Radio, Yitzhak Melzer noted in the 15 years since Tarabin's imprisonment, former prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert also did not make efforts to visit the families.
Tarabin, who moved from Egypt to Rahat when he was 10, was arrested after illegally crossing the border into Egypt in late 1999, and sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of spying. Both Israel and Tarabin’s family have denied the charges.
In May 2014, he wrote an open letter to Netanyahu explaining the stiuation, echoing Melzer's sentiments.
"Your government forgot me in an Egyptian prison, where I'm being held for no reason. Had I been Jewish or Druse, you would have fought for me," Tarabin wrote. "Unfortunately neither you nor your government took care of me because I'm an Arab."
His letter describes ill-treatment in the Egyptian prison and a lack of legal rights. Tarabin says he was discriminated against and denied consultation with the judge due to his Israeli citizenship.
Tarabin called on Netanyahu to intervene immediately and to put an end to his suffering and that of his family.
"I want to feel that I am a citizen of a country that respects its citizens, looks out for their interests, and doesn't discriminate between them," Tarabin ended the note.
Yasser Okbi contributed to this report.