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Egypt and Israel prisoner swap in the offing

February 20, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Hot on the heels of the Shalit prisoner exchange deal between Israel and the Palestinian authorities in Gaza, Egyptian media sources have revealed that serious talks are taking place about a similar deal between Tel Aviv and Cairo. According to Al-Ahram newspaper, Egyptian prisoners being held by Israel may soon be released in exchange for Ilan Gharabeel, the Israeli spy arrested in Egypt earlier this year.

In a report on Sunday, Al-Ahram said that there are just over 80 Egyptian citizens currently in Israeli jails, including three children. Most are serving sentences between 2 and 20 years for offences including attempted murder but not political or military acts. The three children, all under the age of 14, were arrested recently and charged with “infiltration and acts that harm the interests of Israeli national security”. Gharabeel was accused of spying for the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, by inciting attempts to thwart the January 25 Revolution and igniting sectarian violence.

Quoting “reliable” sources, the report said that talks between Tel Aviv and Cairo are “almost completed”. They added that the success of Egyptian mediation in the Palestinian-Shalit exchange deal, as well as the formal apology made by Israel recently for killing five Egyptian soldiers in the border region, have paved the way for the new deal.