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Tarabin, then aged 19, was arrested in 2000 after he illegally crossed the border from Israel (his brother suggests he went over to visit his sister in El-Arish). Illegal border crossings by the Bedouin residents of Israel and Egypt are not a rarity; Israel also occasionally arrests Egyptian crossers, who are returned over the border after a short interrogation. Ouda had previously crossed into Egypt; after his return to Israel, he was tried in absentia on charges of spying for Israel by an Egyptian military court. He was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. When he was arrested after crossing into Egypt in 2000, he was informed of his trial and sentence, and that his father had been similarly sentenced in absentia to 25 years for espionage.
Ouda, therefore, had no chance of defending himself in person, and was convicted under Egypt's emergency law, in effect since 1981, granting police sweeping powers of arrest. The stated basis of the prosecution was testimony given by Ouda's Egyptian cousin, Eid Suleiman, who was arrested for similar charges in 1999 and is also currently imprisoned. According to his family, Ouda he has done nothing wrong other than cross into Egypt without the proper documentation.
In May 2012, it was reported that Israeli officials were conducting secret negotiations with Egypt, and were discussing the possibility of releasing all 83 Egyptians incarcerated in Israeli prisons in exchange for Tarabin.
In 2013, Tarabin went on hunger strike in protest of his imprisonment.
- "A father's plea for the prisoner Israel forgot" Jerusalem Post. August 22, 2008.
- "They forgot me in Cairo" Yediot Achronot printed edition, weekend supplement. August 22, 2008.
- "MK Kara meets brother of Israeli imprisoned in Egypt". Ynetnews. Yedioth Ahronoth. 25 March 2009. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
- Israeli jailed in Egypt goes on hunger strike