After a Year of Silence, Israeli Bedouin Asks Hamas to Release His Son

Sha’aban al-Sayed goes public for the first time, says his son Hisham suffers mental problems and is not a soldier after Hamas claims the latter is among four Israelis in captivity.

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Black and white headshot of Hisham al-Sayed.
A black and white headshot of Hisham al-Sayed. His father has called on Hamas to release him.
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

The father of a missing Bedouin man on Thusday called on Hamas to release his son, saying the latter suffers from mental problems and is not an Israeli soldier.

Hisham al-Sayeed, from the Negev town of Hura, has reportedly been held in Gaza for the past year. The plea made by his father, Sha’aban, marks the first time the family has gone public with its request. Until now, the family has preferred to maintain a low media profile.

Sha’aban al-Sayeed told Haaretz Thursday that he decided to go public following an announcement by Hamas’ military wing last week that they were holding four prisoners but that no negotiations were underway, and that a price should be paid for any information.

Hisham al-Sayed’s picture appeared alongside photographs of two deceased Israel Defense Forces soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, and Avera Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian origin.

“Hamas knows full well my son is not well," Sha’aban al-Sayed said. "He ran away twice before to the Gaza Strip and they would give him back. This time they are holding him, claiming he is a soldier and a collaborator with Israel.”

According to the father, a number of unsuccessful attempts were made over the past year to secure his son’s release through intermediaries. The family has relatives and many acquaintances in the Gaza Strip, he said, adding, “There were all sorts of figures who asked for money in exchange for talks, but I did not agree. I decided to go to the media and convey a message to Hamas and others in Gaza: Release my son.”

When the father was asked whether he thought Israel was doing enough to obtain his son’s release, he said the authorities in Israel were doing everything possible.

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