Thursday, October 20, 2011

Egypt arrests Israeli national at border crossing

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities arrested a Palestinian citizen of Israel at the Egypt border Thursday, saying they discovered a weapon and large quantity of ammunition in his possession.

The Palestinian-Israeli, who was not otherwise identified, told Egyptian security forces he worked for an Israeli tourism company and was traveling with his wife to the northern Sinai city of Taba, officials said.

Forces discovered an American-made weapon when searching the man's car as he entered Egypt via the Taba border crossing near the southern town of Eilat, Egyptian security officials told Ma'an.

The suspect was detained when he failed to provide an adequate explanation for the weapon and ammunition, and has been transferred for investigation to facilities in southern Sinai, they said.

The arrest comes amid a breakdown in Israel-Egypt relations, although they have improved in recent days following Cairo's successful mediation of a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas.

Egypt is also considering swapping a US-Israeli joint national, suspected of spying for Israel, for 81 Egyptians detained in Israel, the state-owned daily Al-Ahram said Sunday.

Israel enjoyed close ties with deposed President Hosni Mubarak, brought down in February in a popular uprising. Relations have remained tense as Egypt struggles to maintain security in the Sinai.