Egypt releases two Israelis found with bullets in their bags

Egypt releases two Israelis found with bullets in their bags

Foreign Ministry warns Israelis to double check belongings, after vacationers held over weekend

Illustrative: The Taba crossing on the Israeli-Egyptian border, near Eilat. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: The Taba crossing on the Israeli-Egyptian border, near Eilat. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Egyptian authorities on Sunday released two Israelis detained over the weekend after crossing into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula with bullets in their baggage.

The sister of one of the vacationers told Israel’s Army Radio her brother was returning to Israel.

“At the moment he is waiting for a flight home,” said Avital, the sister of one of the Israelis identified as Maor Matari. “He is remaining calm.”

A Foreign Ministry statement urged citizens going abroad, many of whom are freshly released from military service, to double check their luggage to make sure there are no stray bullets.

Illustrative photo of security guard checking x-ray of baggage (Getty Images)

“Failure to check may cause unpleasantness up to the point of arrest,” the ministry warned.

Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has picked up as a popular destination for Israeli tourists in recent years.

Young Israelis, who generally serve some three years in the military, sometimes get caught inadvertently carrying bullets or other army gear in their luggage when they travel abroad.

Last year, an Israeli man was held by Egyptian authorities for some 30 hours after he was arrested at the border with a weapon magazine in his car. He was fined an unspecified amount.

Over the past few years, half a dozen Israelis traveling to Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, India and Egypt were detained by local authorities for traveling with bullets in their bags.

In January 2018, an Israeli man with five bullets in his luggage was arrested and detained for over a month in Azerbaijan. He was released in March that year, paying an unspecified fine.

An Israeli woman was arrested in late February 2018 at Baku airport with bullets in her luggage. She was traveling using the bag of her daughter, who is an IDF soldier. The woman was detained for three weeks before being sent home.

In November 2017 a 62-year-old Israeli was detained by Uzbek authorities for three days after being arrested when a loaded clip was found in his bag upon arrival in Tashkent.

A similar incident occurred in Uzbekistan in March 2017, when an Israeli in his 20s was held for 12 days after 13 bullets were discovered in his luggage as he was transferring between planes on his way from Israel to Thailand

In October 2017, Israeli tourist Nir Itach was briefly detained in Egypt after bullets were found in a backpack that belonged to his brother when he was in the army. Itach was released after several hours in custody, fined around $140, and banned from entering Egypt for seven days. His brother said at the time that he had used a bag from his time in military service and had not been aware of the bullets’ presence.

In 2016 another Israeli was detained in India after authorities found a bullet she had forgotten in her bag that she had apparently used during her army service.

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