An Israeli man was arrested on December 31 in the border town of Taba in Egypt’s South Sinai “on suspicion of espionage,” said the Egyptian judicial source, whose name was not mentioned in the report, on Tuesday.
“He was remanded today in police custody for four days pending investigation.”
The source also stated that the 24-year-old suspect, identified as Andre Yaacoub, “infiltrated into Egypt through a mountainous area near Taba.”
Egyptian officials say Yaacoub was trying to reach the besieged Gaza Strip through the Sinai Peninsula in an effort to join Palestinian resistance fighters.
Meanwhile, Israeli media have identified the detained suspect as Andrey Pshenichnikov, a Russian-born immigrant to Israel who had been arrested by the Israeli security service last year over his activities in support of Palestinians.
According to a report published by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Tuesday, the suspect had served for four and a half years in the Israeli military. “After being released from the army, he underwent a dramatic political shift,” the paper said.
In 2012, he became the center of attention when he announced that he intended to renounce his Israeli citizenship and move to a Palestinian refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.
“A year ago he moved to Bethlehem and after that to the Deheishe refugee camp” in the West Bank, Haaretz added. “His time living among Palestinians ended when he was arrested by the Shin Bet… but was later released after a court hearing.”
Yaacoub immigrated to Israel from Tajikistan eleven years ago.