Father of Israeli-Arab Held in Gaza Slams Joint List for Lack of Help

Sha’aban al-Sayed says Arab party and Bedouin leaders in Negev don’t want to help because his son Hisham served in Israeli army for few months; son crossed into Gaza Strip in April 2015.

Black and white headshot of Hisham al-Sayed.

The father of a Bedouin man who has been missing since crossing into the Gaza Strip last year has criticized members of the Joint List and Bedouin leaders in the Negev, saying they haven’t provided any help because his son served in the Israeli army for a few months and because “they want Hamas to think they’re nationalists.”

Ever since Hisham al-Sayed crossed into Gaza in April 2015, his father, Sha’aban al-Sayed, has been trying to maintain a low profile in the media. He meets with Lior Lotan – the prime minister’s coordinator for missing persons and fallen soldiers – once every two or three weeks.

The elder Sayed has also tried working through private channels, telling Haaretz that a number of attempts have been made to determine his son’s fate through Bedouin families who have relatives in Gaza, but to no avail.

Ever since the case was first publicized last year, Sayed had contacted several members of the Joint List. But his first meeting with faction Chairman Ayman Odeh took place only a few weeks ago, he said.

“I tried to get him to help me, perhaps through Abu Mazen [referring to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas]. But since that meeting I haven’t heard anything,” said Sayed. “They aren’t interested in helping people who were in the army, that’s known. They don’t want to be there, they don’t want their names mixed up with such people. That’s what happened with Ouda Tarabin,” he added, referring to the Bedouin man jailed in Egypt for 15 years after being accused of spying for Israel.

“We have a problem: the Gazans consider us Jews, and here we’re considered Hamasniks,” said Sayed.

He added that his son had been treated by a psychiatrist at Soroka Medical Center, Be’er Sheva, for 10 years, and that this was the third time he had crossed the border into Gaza. In the previous two incidents, Hamas had handed him back to Israel, he noted.

Sayed stressed, though, that MK Talab Abu Arar (Joint List), as well as former MK Talab al-Sana, both of whom are Bedouin, have been trying to assist him in locating his son.