Visitor to Egypt Reports That Jews There Are Held Under ‘appalling Conditions’

Egyptian authorities are holding Jews as hostages under “appalling conditions” until Israel withdraws from the territories it occupied in the June, 1967 Arab-Israeli war, it was learned here yesterday. The information came from a European visitor who was in Egypt and inquired about the Jewish prisoners at camp called Thaura. The informant said he elicited it from Egyptian Government sources. About 250 Jews are held in the camp’s “political wing” which is controlled by security police; they range in age from 18 to 60, the informant said, and have been imprisoned for over a year without trial or charges brought against them.

This report and others of a similar vein have been brought here by travellers who visited Egypt, despite Egyptian attempts to hide the facts, especially from foreigners. Relatives of the prisoners were permitted to visit them once a month or once in six weeks and every time they returned for a prison visit they were shocked by the conditions they saw, according to the reports. Several prisoners have committed suicide and others have made repeated attempts to do so. A number have become mentally unbalanced and are confined to a “mental wing” of the camp, the travellers said.

The reports of inhuman conditions in camps where Jews are confined have been given apparent added credence by the adamant refusal of Egyptian and Syrian authorities to let International Red Cross missions inspect the prisons. Both countries have refused to allow a United Nations representative to inquire into the condition of the Jewish communities. Their refusal has held up Secretary-General U Thant’s appointment of a special emissary to investigate the condition of civilians in the Middle East. Israel has agreed to allow the UN inspector to visit the occupied territories on condition that the Arab countries facilitate a like inspection of the Jewish communities within their borders.

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