Release of Israeli ‘reporter’ irks families of Egyptian prisoners in Israel

The families of Egyptian prisoners currently being held in Israel were angered by a recent decision by Egyptian authorities to release Yotam Feldman, an Israeli reporter arrested last week for trespassing on Egyptian territory. Families urged the authorities to trade Feldman for their captive relatives, some of whom have been languishing in Israeli jails for several years.

Authorities, however, declined the request and released the reporter on Sunday. Feldman departed Egypt on a private jet, accompanied by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai, who flew to Egypt specifically to retrieve him.

"My son has sat in an Israeli prison for more than seven years and our leaders have done nothing about it," said Um Yasser. "Israel, meanwhile, sends its deputy prime minister to secure the release of someone found guilty of illegal trespass–the same charge my son was locked up for."

"My brother Mohamed was sent to prison in Israel for refusing to cooperate with the Mossad. He informed the Egyptian authorities and showed them the money and communication device that the Israelis gave him," said Ibrahim Suleiman. "So the Israelis kidnapped him and sentenced him to seven years in prison, of which he has now served four. In the interim, the Egyptian authorities have completely forgotten about him."

According to some sources, the release of the Israeli reporter without trial contrasts with measures taken against Egyptian nationals that have illegally entered the Gaza Strip, a number of whom were punished with monetary fines and jail sentences. The best known case of this kind involved Magdi Ahmed Hussein, secretary-general of Egypt’s frozen Labor Party, who is currently serving a two-year jail term for crossing the Egyptian border into the Gaza Strip during Israel’s "Cast Lead" assault one year ago.

In a statement issued Sunday, the opposition Karama Party’s North Sinai branch demanded that Feldman be brought to trial on espionage charges. The Israeli reporter stayed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula for five days, note party officials, strongly suggesting that he had not been on a "press mission" as he had claimed.

Karama Party officials also warned Israeli nationals of entering South Sinai without a valid travel visa, saying that such a step would be considered a threat to Egypt’s national security.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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