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Israel Delays Grapel Exchange to the Afternoon

Israel has delayed the exchange of 25 Egyptian prisoners for Ilan Grapel at the Taba Crossing, according to Arab media.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 10/27/2011, 10:40 AM

Ilan Grapel
Ilan Grapel
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Egyptian security sources say Ilan Grapel won't be returned to Israel until mid-to-late afternoon.

According to a report published on the Arabic-language website of the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency, Grapel's arrival at the Taba Crossing has been rescheduled for 1:00 p.m., in accordance with a request by the Israeli authorities.

The news agency quoted high-level Egyptian security sources as saying Israel had initiated the change in the swap schedule, which was originally to begin at 9:00 a.m.

Egyptian Maj.-Gen. Chief of Staff Khalid Fouda, governor of South Sinai is heading the delegation of senior security sent to the city of Taba some 300 kilometers from Sharm el-Sheikh. Fouda's delegation will receive the Egyptian prisoners at the Taba crossing.

Israel has agreed to free 25 Egyptian prisoners, including three minors, in exchange for Grapel, who has been held in a Cairo prison since June 12 after being charged with espionage. The charges were eventually downgraded to incitement after months of delicate diplomatic wrangling on the part of Israel and the United States.

The dual national, a third-year law student at Emory College in Atlanta, Georgia, served as a paratrooper in the IDF prior to returning to the U.S. to begin his higher education. Last summer he served as an intern in Israel, and this summer he had intended to serve as an intern in Egypt working for an NGO reportedly to increase his understanding of Arabic culture -- only to find himself instead embroiled in the "Arab Spring."

According to MK Michael Ben Ari and the Almagor terror victims organization, many of those being freed are actually security prisoners.

This is a direct contradiction to claims made by government sources, which insisted that all prisoners being freed in the deal are "common criminals" who do not present any security risk to the state and its citizens.

Grapel is expected to fly from Cairo to Ben Gurion International Airport after he is released and then to travel to Jerusalem to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu before returning to the United States.