Egypt Detains Israeli Scientists

Egyptian authorities have seized an Israeli yacht with 13 people on board who were charged with illegal entry into Egyptian territorial waters near Sharm el-Sheikh in southern Sinai.

The Eilat-registered vessel Solan carried a party of 12 marine biologists and botanists, led by Professor Yoel Kashman of Tel Aviv University.

They and its captain were escorted to A-Tor, the administrative capital of southern Sinai, where the scientists were also accused of illegal scuba diving and collection marine specimens without a permit.

Israeli diplomats from the Cairo Embassy reportedly went to A-Tor to try to settle matters. Foreign Ministry sources said they hope the detainees would be freed by the end of the day but the ship probably would be held, pending a court hearing.

Israeli sources suggested the incident stemmed from a “misunderstanding” or was the work of an overzealous local official.

The Egyptian Consulate in Eilat said it had no information about the seizure of an Israeli vessel.

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