Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Israel To Carry Out Another Swap; This Time With Egypt

On the heels of the recent release of Gilad Shalit, Israel has authorized a swap with Egypt to secure release of Israeli-American Ilan Grapel. Grapel was picked up by Egyptian security during the uprisings in Cairo; he'll be swapped for 25 Egyptians held in Israeli jails. The Egyptians had claimed he was engaging in espionage, but those charges were later reduced to incitement:
Grapel is expected to return to Israel on Thursday. A statement put out by the Prime Minister's Office said Israel agreed to the Egyptian request for the release 22 Egyptian prisoners, and 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.
Israel's recent swaps can be seen as an attempt to gain favor with various Arab regimes, but also eliminates a longstanding issue for the Israeli government - how to deal with Israelis held abroad on trumped up charges or being held for ransom.

While it undoubtedly means that other Israelis may be kidnapped/captured for ransom as Hamas and the PRC has claimed it would do, it shows that the Israeli government eventually does hold true to the notion that no Israeli would be left behind; it will do what it takes to secure the release of such Israelis.

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