Report: Egypt Arrests Israeli Man Trying to Visit Holy Site

The PA's Ma'an news service said Egypt arrested an Israeli citizen on his way to the grave of Rabbi Ya'akov Abuhatzeira.

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David Lev,

Egyptian soldier stands guard at the Taba cro
Egyptian soldier stands guard at the Taba cro
AFP photo

The PA's Ma'an news service said Sunday that an Israeli citizen had been arrested over the weekend. The man, according to the report, attempted to infiltrate Sinai through the Taba crossing. He was able to make it across from the Israeli side, but was arrested when he tried to enter Egypt. He did not have a visa or any identification papers.

According to the report, the Israeli is Jewish and a resident of Tel Aviv. The man reportedly told Egyptian authorities that he had planned to visit the grave of Rabbi Ya'akov Abuchatzeira in the town of Damanhour. He said that he had planned to leave Egypt for Morocco afterwards. He is currently being held by Egyptian authorities. No decision has yet been made on what to do with him, the report said.

Israeli officials have not confirmed the story, but said they were checking all possibilities.

Damanhour has for over 100 years been an important pilgrimage site for North African Jews. Rabbi Ya'akov Abuhatzeira was one of a long line of rabbis from the famous Abuhatzeira rabbinical family, most of whom immigrated to Israel in the 1950s. Rabbi Abuhatzeira was the grandfather of the Baba Sali, famed as a miracle worker, and had a reputation as a miracle worker himself.

Until 2012, thousands of Jews from Israel would travel to Damanhour annually to commemorate the life of Rabbi Abuhatzeira. The Egyptian government stopped the visits in 2012, claiming that the sight of so many Jews was “offensive to Egyptians.”