The general prosecution said the Israeli spy who was arrested yesterday in Egypt is highly trained as he was handed a number of missions to accomplish in the region. One of these assignments was to increase tensions between Egyptian protesters and army forces during the January 25 Revolution.
Around three weeks ago, Major General Sameh Seif El-Yazal, head of Al-Gomhoria’s Center for Political and Security Studies, told Ahram Online that an Israeli espionage organisation was detected in Egypt, saying it was keeping tabs on the deployment of police and military forces on the streets in the midst of the security vacuum during the 18-day revolt.
Ilan Chaim Grapel was captured Sunday by Egyptian security forces in a well-known hotel in downtown Cairo, with a laptop and three cell phones containing top-secret information that could be politically harmful for Egypt in the wrong hands.
The suspect, an Israeli army veteran who was injured in Lebanon in 2006, was photographed several times in Tahrir Square during the popular uprising, and appeared also in other Egyptian cities. Photos of Grabel in his Israeli army uniform have also been circulating on the internet.
According to initial investigations, Grapel is alleged to have been seeking to inflame the feelings of demonstrators, encouraging them to clash with military forces and stir up chaos. It was also revealed that the Israeli soldier speaks many Arab dialects, including Egyptian, Lebanese and Palestinian.
Investigations have indicated that manipulating Egyptian public opinion was among the most “crucial” tasks Grapel is suspected to have undertaken. He is also alleged to have worked on documenting critical incidents in the country after the Egyptian revolution – such as the rise of Islamists, sectarian tensions and problems plaguing the country’s Copts.
Shortly after his arrest, the foreign ministry announced the Israeli authorities did not know the whereabouts of Grapel, who reportedly left Tel Aviv several months ago. He is now being detained for 15 days in Egypt pending further investigation.
The Israeli media have been asking what Grapel’s fate will be, and whether Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will deal with Israel-related cases differently than toppled president Hosni Mubarak.
The 83-year-old Mubarak, who was deposed on 11 February, was a staunch ally of Israel during his 30-year rule. Israeli government officials had been keen to see him survive the popular uprising and extend his tenure as president.