US-Israeli national Ilan Grapel held a press conference in Jerusalem on Thursday after returning to Israel from Egypt where he was held for four months on espionage charges.
Grapel thanked the Israeli and American officials who helped secure his release as part of a prisoner exchange deal which saw 25 Egyptian prisoners freed. He thanked Egyptian authorities, who he said treated him well and with respect from day one.
- Ilan Grapel lands in Israel
He related details from his time in the Egyptian prison: "It was a tough ordeal as I was isolated, but the guards were OK. What I wanted to eat, they gave me, including fresh fish. They paid for my meals, more than the average Egyptian would get."
Shortly after landing in Israel Grapel and his mother Irene met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his chambers in Jerusalem. Congressman Gary Ackerman told Grapel Netanyahu had promised him in June he would do everything in his power to bring him home. Grapel, in turn, replied that that is what helped through the tough times.
Grapel in Jerusalem press conference (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The US State Department issued a statement welcoming Grapel's release. "The United States welcomes the release of Ilan Grapel, who we have worked hard to bring home since his June detention in Egypt. We thank the Governments of Egypt and Israel for their roles in reuniting him with his family.
Grapel. Says treated with respect by Egyptians (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"The Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty is a vital element of regional peace and stability, and we strongly support both countries’ sustained commitment to its provisions."
Attila Somfalvi and Yitzhak Benhorin contributed to this report
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