Jews Prohibited from Leaving Egypt and Are Apparently Held As Hostages

The Egyptian Government, in a decision reportedly made by President Nasser personally, has decided to ban the departure from Egypt of all Jews still in Egypt, thus apparently holding them as hostages, the American Jewish Committee reported here. About a quarter of the remaining estimated 1,000 Jews are still in prison, having been detained since the June, 1967 war, though they have been neither charged nor found guilty of any offense, the report said.

The report said that the decision applied to Jews holding Egyptian citizenship, to Jews nominally stateless and even to Jews holding foreign nationality if that nationality was acquired after the Six-Day War. The report said this was the first such decision adopted by Egypt and that it constituted a gross violation of basic human rights. In the past Jews were allowed to leave Egypt after being “denationalized” by authorities.

Anti-Jewish actions also have been taken by the Governments of Syria and Iraq against their remaining Jewish nationals, the AJ Committee report said. It asserted that the Egyptian Government had not even bothered with the pretense that the detained Jews were guilty of any offense. “They are being held prisoners simply because they are Jews,” the report declared. The Jewish prisoners, numbering an estimated 223 to 240, have been transferred to the Tourah prison near Cairo after initial detention at the Abu Zaabal jail, where they were the target of odious treatment, including torture, the report said.

In Iraq, 26 Jews out of a remaining community of 2,500 also are being held in prison without charges being placed against them. At one time, more than 100 heads of Jewish families were jailed after the Six-Day War, but most of them have since been freed, according to the AJ Committee report. Since the war, the Iraqi Government has staged a house-to-house search of all Jewish homes and has drawn up a register of all occupants. Jews have been forbidden to travel from their areas of residence and remain under constant surveillance. Iraqi Jews are forbidden to emigrate and cannot sell or other-wise dispose of immovable property.

In Syria, the report said, Jews are held virtual prisoners in their own homes, being forbidden to travel more than a mile and a half from their residences without special permits. They must carry special identity cards and may not sell or otherwise dispose of their property. Palestinian Arab refugees have been resettled in homes in the former Jewish quarters, posing a continual threat to Jews in Damascus and Aleppo, where incidents have already occurred, the AJ Committee reported.

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