Israeli Cabinet approves deal to free Israel-US Citizen Ilan Grapel

Israeli cabinet approved today unanimously a deal to release 27 year-old Ilan Grapel from Egyptian prison. In exchange, 25 Egyptian citizens will be released from Israeli prisons, including 3 minors. The prisoners released were not imprisoned for security reasons, but their offenses are of criminal nature – most have used the Israeli-Egyptian border to facilitate smuggling illegal drugs or trafficking – mainly “smuggling”, sometimes trading, women who are coerced to work as prostitutes, through the Sinai Peninsula.

Who is Ilan Grapel?

Ilan Grapel is a 27 year-old man from Queens, New York. Up until his arrest in Egypt, he was studying law in Atlanta, at Emroy University. He has a dual-citizenship, both American (US) and Israeli. In 2005, He enlisted into the Israeli army and served as a paratrooper. He was injured during the 2006 war against Hezbollah terror militia (known in Israel as  The Second Lebanese War). According to his parents, Grapel entered Egypt with a group called Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance. The group was established by Barbara Harrell-Bond, who also founded the Refugee Studies Center at Oxford University. According to his parents, Grapel was working with the group to give legal aid and other kinds of help to refugees in there. According to his friends, he was intrigued by the uprising in Egypt last January and demonstrated with the Egyptians at Tahrir Square in an act of solidarity.

On June 12th, 2011, Grapel was arrested. Egyptian personnel claimed he was an Israeli spy, an agent of the Mossad, sent there to gather intelligence about the people, the revolution and the clashes with the military – THAT IS PREPOSTEROUS!

Is Ilan Grapel a Spy?

Today, four months after his arrest where he’s kept in solitude, Egyptian personnel, the same ones who shouted “dangerous spy” when arresting him, almost arbitrarily, admit he is not spy and have posed no danger to Egypt. That is why they are willing to free him for 25 Egyptian criminals.

But the fact that this was a ridiculous accusation was apparent from the start. The main evidence to that was his own Facebook page – Not only did this supposed “spy” had a Facebook page, he also kept updating it with information about his trip to Egypt. Pictures, posts, statuses… Moreover, this so-called spy had his Facebook page filled with pictures from his days in the service, mainly of him in uniform or from the war. In fact, all the picture I’ve posted in this post are from Grapel’s own Facebook profile. If he was really a spy, then he wasn’t a very clever spy. No Israeli agent would boast about his military past or flaunt his service in the Israeli Army, especially not in an Arab / Muslim country.

Egypt knew that very well. This is why he was kept for four months under these horrible accusations, but was never charged or indicted. I couldn’t even find a record of him being brought before a judge.

At the end, the bottom line is this was simply put an abduction. An extortion. For falsely incarcerating Ilan Grapel and denying his due process, Egypt managed to released 25 of their people who committed unspeakable crimes and were trialed properly for said crimes. To Egypt’s defense, I will say that Grapel was granted fair and somewhat humane conditions, including visits from the American consulate, his parents and at the end even Israeli personnel (Whether it was due to his US citizenship alone, I can’t say, but I personally believe it helped).

In the new Middle East around Israel, in an chaotic Egypt that knows more unrest as time grows, after the West was so quick to dispense with Hosni Mubarak and is today facing the possibility that not all could be for the best, Israel has its back to the wall. Because it is certain that the hatred towards Israel just for the purpose of hating with merely no logical or rational merits to it will only grow, that the Muslim Brothers movement will get a large (if not a majority) part of the power after the elections – Israel has very little to do. Absurdly enough, because it wishes to maintain good relations with Egypt, it can’t bluntly accuse it of such blackmail for ransom. It even went as far as to apologize to Egypt for the death of Egyptian personnel during a terror attack that originated from Egyptian soil, near an Egyptian post in broad daylight and killed 8 Israelis. This is seriously getting ridiculous. But in order to maintain peace, Israel allows itself to be taking blows, to not speak when blind hatred towards it is being spread by her allies in the region, because more than anything –

Israel is country and a society that cherishes life and peace. It does not seek the kind of hatred and rage displayed in the society and sometimes leadership of its’ neighbors in the middle east, it does not possess it.

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