Daily Israel Report

Kibbutz, Bedouin Tribe Rallies at Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv

The Task Division of the Kibbutz Movement has joined members of the Bedouin Tarabin tribe to rally for Ouda Tarabin's release from Egypt.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 2/2/2012, 10:33 AM

Bedouin roam the desert
Bedouin roam the desert
Flash 90

The Task Division of the Kibbutz Movement has joined members of the Tarabin tribe to demonstrate at the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv for the release of Ouda Soliman Tarabin.

The Bedouin shepherd was arrested and taken into custody 11 years ago, and although the family has tried repeatedly to obtain a transcript of his trial, they have been unsuccessful, and suspects there was none.

There have been several different versions in Israel of how he came to be across the border in Sinai, but none are connected to the espionage of which he is accused by the Egyptian government.

One version alleges that the shepherd, age 18 at the time, accidentally crossed the border into the Sinai Peninsula while searching for a lost camel.

In a second version – this one closer to the allegations of the Egyptian government – Tarabin, now 29, sneaked across the border to visit a married sister who lives in Sinai.

Tarabin is a member of the powerful Bedouin Tarabin tribe, which is spread throughout the Negev and Sinai. He allegedly sneaked across the border in an attempt to visit a married sister who lives in Sinai.

Egypt's official version of Tarabin's activities is quite different – as it was with Ilan Grapel, a dual U.S.-Israeli law student who last year had gone to Egypt as an American summer intern and ended up jailed as a “spy.” Months of delicate negotiations between Egyptian “Arab Spring” lawmakers, Israel and the U.S. were required to free the third-year law student, who returned to his students in the U.S. Shortly after his release from Egyptian captivity. As the price for his freedom, Cairo won the release of political and security prisoners from Israel, and previously forbidden weaponry from America.

But although Israel tried to tack on Tarabin to the Grapel deal, Egypt was unwilling to buy it. Nevertheless, Tarabin's lawyer, Yitzchak Meltzer, said last week he is still hoping to free his client despite the earlier failure.

Cairo's version of the Bedouin shepherd's activities dates back to the previous generation: Egypt claims that Israel “was able to recruit his father, Soliman Tarabin, after the 1967 war,” according to Egypt.com.

“Soliman was assigned to reveal the Egyptian resistance movements during the Egyptian war of Attrition,” the website claims. The elder Tarabin and his family “escaped to Israel and lived there. They got (sic) nationality and then Egyptian court sentenced him to prison for 25 years,” the Egyptian government claims.

Egypt alleges that Soliman's son was warned not to return, but he “infiltrated the border” and entered the Sinai anyway “under the pretext of visiting his family and his married sisters in El-Arish.”

The younger Tarabin was arrested “while he was trying to recruit his sister's husband, who lives in El-Arish, to spy on the Egyptian military movements in Sinai.”

He has languished in an Egyptian prison ever since.