Israel’s state radio said on Tuesday that the foreign ministry is making contact with Egyptian authorities to secure the release of an Israeli who has been detained in Egypt since Saturday.
An Egyptian state security official had said Monday that they had arrested a retired Israeli army sergeant near Taba in South Sinai after entering the country illegally. His mother and Israeli media have both claimed he is a civilian pro-Palestinian activist.
According to Egyptian state news agency MENA, the man was a Tel Aviv resident of Russian origin who was not carrying a passport, and his name had not been on tourist arrival lists. But Israeli media reported that Andrei Pshenichnikov, a known pro-Palestinian activist, had crossed into Egypt with the intention of entering the Gaza Strip, an area that is off limits to Israelis for security reasons.
His mother, Svetlana, told Israel Radio that he was in custody in Egypt and that he had intended to travel via Sinai to Cairo to rendezvous with friends from France.
"He received his visa [to visit Egypt] and went to Eilat, intending to cross into Egypt, tour the area and then go to Cairo, but Israeli police stopped him at the border and said he had tried to cross the border illegally … they held him for several days and they demanded he sign an undertaking not to go to Cairo, but he refused."
She added that her son was eventually released by Israeli authorities after his Israeli and Russian passports had been confiscated, but that later in the day he had called from Taba and said he had been detained there by Egyptian authorities.
"After he finished his army service … he supported [Palestinians] … He later rented an apartment in a refugee camp in Bethlehem to prove to the locals that there are Israelis who are in favor of peace," Svetlana added.
Egyptian security sources in Sinai said the detainee had been gathering information about Sinai from drivers in the area near the Taba border crossing between Egypt and Israel.
Egypt is trying to reassert control over Sinai, which has suffered from lax security since the uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.Tags: Egyptian authorities, Israeli army, South Sinai, Egyptian state security, Israeli media