Israeli national Andre Pshenichnikov, 24, has been detained in Egypt
since Friday, his family reported. The Foreign Ministry confirmed the information and launched an investigation of the case.
Egyptian security officials confirmed that they have arrested Pshenichnikov after he illegally entered from Israel into the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula near the Taba crossing.
According to the officials, he was trying to reach the Gaza Strip
through Sinai to fight alongside Palestinians.
Pshenichnikov's mother, Svetlana, told Ynet: "He was planning to meet up with some friends of his in Cairo after coming back from France about a month ago. He eventually got his visa from Egypt and a week ago went to Eilat and tried to cross the border to Egypt legally.
"The police there arrested him, claiming that he was trying to cross the border illegally. He was tried in Eilat and was told he could be released if he signed a document by which he vowed not to go to Egypt. He refused, so they took both his Russian and his Israeli passports and let him go.
According to Pshenichnikov's mother, he was then planning to stay in Eilat,
but the next day called her and told her that he was detained in Taba. "They wouldn’t let me talk to him that much; his voice was fine, and he said that the conditions were fine, but I'm afraid that he's lying to keep me from worrying too much.
Andre Pshenichnikov, 'peace activist'
"By Friday, he called again and said that he's in prison. Some friends of his tried contacting him but when they called Egypt they were told that they reached Rafah. No one mentioned it on the news. His friends turned to the Foreign Ministry for help but from what I understand they refused to attend to it."
The mother told Ynet that her son, a computer technician, was living with her and her husband in Bat Yam. She claimed he was an "activist for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, which is very dangerous. He's been arrested before, so I took all my money and bought him a ticket to Paris. He just came back recently."
"I'm worried; I'm his mother. I pray all the time. I'm willing to go to jail in his place. He's an Israeli citizen. I beg that they bring him back. I'm afraid that he may not be held by police, but by a group of terrorists. I ask for help, and if the state won't help, I ask for permits to go there myself – that they let my husband and I cross the border."
Svetlana added that Andre had previously moved to Palestinian refugee camp near Bethlehem
in an attempt to prove that Israelis and Palestinians can coexist.
Lizzie Saggi, a friend of Pshenichnikov told Ynet: "I first met him in Mount Hebron.
He's a lovely man; smart and friendly. When he was arrested I called and talked to him. He said he was detained in Taba and I said we'd try to take care of things. At first we though he was coming back, but we couldn’t locate him in any facility within Israel. The Taba police said he was taken to Port Said. We're worried about him; we're making phone calls to people all over the world. We don’t know anything and we hope that someone helps him."
In recent years, a few Israeli citizens were arrested after crossing the border to Egypt, in most cases inadvertently, and all were returned to Israel
within a few days.
Israeli-American Ilan Grapel,
however, was held in an Egyptian prison for four months in 2011, under suspicion of fomenting unrest in Egypt. Grapel, a former IDF
soldier, was released in October 2011 in exchange for 25 Egyptian citizens held in Israeli prisons.
AP contributed to the report
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