Diplomatic sources have revealed that the Egyptian government has contacted its Israeli counterpart to strike a deal for the release of its nationals being held in Israel's prisons. At the same time, Cairo is hoping to obtain information about the health of those Egyptian prisoners who have gone on hunger strike as part of the general protest by Palestinian prisoners. Human rights reports suggest that 65 Egyptian prisoners are taking part in the hunger strike in protest against the conditions of their imprisonment.
The sources said that the contact between the two governments is intended to agree on an exchange deal involving prisoners who are being held by Egypt for spying against Cairo on behalf of the Israelis. Reports claim that the Israelis would be willing to come to such an agreement, particularly to get the release of Ouda Tarabin, who was convicted of spying for Tel Aviv and is serving a lengthy sentence in Egypt.
A similar exchange deal was agreed a few months ago which saw the release of the Israeli-American spy Ilan Gerabil, who was arrested by the Egyptian authorities last June following the success of the Egyptian revolution. The deal angered the Egyptian public as the prisoners released in exchange for Gerabil did not include those held by Israel for 15 years or more on charges of participating in anti-Israel operations.