An Egyptian court sentenced an Israeli to two years in prison Monday, months after arresting him for sneaking into the Sinai in an attempt to enter Gaza.

An appeal for Andre Pshenichnikov is planned for later in the week.

His family told the Israeli website Walla News they were surprised by the verdict, noting the maximum penalty for infiltration is six months. “We need all the help and support we can get,” a member of his family told Walla News. “We’re all on our own in this fight.”

Pshenichnikov was sentenced by a court in the town of Nuweiba in the Sinai.

In January, unnamed Egyptian security officials said Pshenichnikov was stopped after filming security installations in Sinai and asking drivers for information. The security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said he was under investigation in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh for allegedly trying to reach the Gaza Strip through Sinai.

Pshenichnikov, who immigrated to Israel with his family from Tadjikistan 13 years ago, caused a stir last year when he declared that he wished to renounce his Israeli citizenship and adopt Palestinian citizenship.

“I hate Zionism,” he told the Associated Press in June 2012. “I want to be part of the Palestinian resistance.”

Pshenichnikov, who served in the IDF for three years, began to question Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians during or after his military service. In April, he moved to the Deheishe Refugee Camp near the West Bank city of Bethlehem and worked as a waiter in a Bethlehem hotel and as a construction worker in the camp.

Ilan Ben Zion and the Associated Press contributed to this report.