Missing Israeli Bedouin’s Father: Nobody Told Me He Was in Gaza

Man from the Negev is one of two Israeli citizens missing in Gaza, it was revealed Thursday after a gag order was lifted.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Security fence along the Gaza Strip border
Security fence along the Gaza Strip borderCredit: IDF Spokespersons' Office
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

The father of a missing Bedouin reportedly being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip said Thursday he had reported his son missing in April, but since then has been told nothing about his whereabouts.

“I have no idea where my son is, nobody told me he’s in Gaza and I don’t know if he’s there or not,” the father of the missing man told Haaretz Thursday.

The man, who belongs to a Bedouin tribe in the Negev, failed to come home on April 20. His family reported him missing to the police, who issued a statement about his disappearance, and the Hebrew and Arab-language media reported the incident. Since then the authorities have not contacted the family or given them any information of their son’s whereabouts, the father said.

The man’s name and other identifying details are banned for publication, but defense sources said he crossed the border to Gaza and is being held there by Hamas.

“My son is not sane. He’s crossed the border to Gaza twice before and was returned,” his father said. “I hope he’s alive and well. If I knew where he was I’d do what I can to bring him home, but I haven’t heard from anyone and no one has contacted me about him.”

Haaretz has learned that the missing man’s family asked Palestinian officials in Ramallah in recent weeks to help them trace him and to inquire whether he is indeed in the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian Authority official said yesterday, “We’ve received several requests from his father and we checked our sources in Gaza, but we’ve received no information that could shed a light on his fate. Everything is still vague.”

Relatives of the missing man said he probably crossed the border to the Sinai desert, either from Israel or via the Gaza Strip, and was captured by one of the combatant groups there.

They said he had crossed the border to Gaza twice before, three times to Jordan and at least once to the West Bank. Each time the relevant authorities brought him back to Israel.

“We’re in complete uncertainly. There’s no information about him,” a relative said.

A resident of the missing man’s village said he remembers him wandering the streets. “Sometimes he’d ask for a cigarette or chewing gum, or a drink of water, and then walk on,” he said. “He’s not a violent or suspicious looking person, but he was known to disappear from time to time.”

MK Taleb Abu Arar (Joint Arab List) called on the government to act to bring the missing man back immediately. “The government must speed up the talks to bring the Bedouin youngster to his family,” he said.

“We regret to hear that the entire government and media effort is focused on releasing the Ethiopian youngster, with no mention of the Bedouin one,” he said.

“The Bedouin is an ordinary civilian with nothing to do with the defense authorities. The most legitimate and positive way to bring both Israelis back is by means of negotiations,” he said.

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