Kara ´outraged´ at Egypt´s punishment of Israelis (JERUSALEM POST) By GIL HOFFMAN AND REUTERS 03/14/12)
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Deputy Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ayoub Kara expressed
outrage on Tuesday at an Egyptian court that sentenced two Israelis
to life in prison on charges of smuggling a machine gun and
ammunition across the Israeli border into Egypt.
One of the Israelis is in Egyptian custody, while the other defendant
was tried in absentia. A Ukrainian was also sentenced.
“The court’s decision to give a life sentence for bearing
unauthorized ammunition was political rather than legal,” Kara
said. “The Egyptian authorities were merely looking for a sacrificial
lamb due to situation in Gaza.” Kara said one of the Israelis
sentenced was Mouad Zehalka of Kafr Kana.
According to the court that issued the conviction, the Ukrainian,
manager of a tourism company in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm e-
Sheikh, had ordered the weapon from one of the Israeli defendants,
the source said.
The other Israeli, who lived in Eilat, brought the weapon into Egypt
at the border at Taba in a cross-shaped wooden crate.
The machine gun and ammunition were discovered when the crate was
placed on an explosives detection machine. The weapon was the sort
used by police in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, investigators said.
The captured Israeli has denied knowing the contents of the crate,
while the Ukrainian said he had ordered the weapon for personal
protection, the court said.
Security along Egypt’s border with Israel, long a conduit for the
smuggling of guns and people, was relaxed after the ouster of former
president Hosni Mubarak following a popular uprising in February
2011, as police presence thinned out across Egypt.
The region has been hit by a number of gas pipeline explosions and
In June, Egypt arrested an American-Israeli on suspicion he was
trying to recruit agents and monitor events in the uprising that
toppled Mubarak, an ally of Israel and the United States. He was
released in October in a prisoner swap that included the release of
25 Egyptians held in Israel.
Egyptian officials say limits on troop numbers in Sinai under the
1979 peace treaty with Israel make it harder to secure the
mountainous region. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/14/12)
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