The family of Amir Omar Hassan, an Israeli citizen who is being held captive in Sinai, expressed hope Sunday that the efforts to secure his release from his Bedouin captors would be successful soon.
“I spoke with him on Friday and he sounded very nervous,” Hassan’s brother, Khaled, told Channel 10. “I know there were negotiations for two days in an attempt to reach an agreement.”
Khaled Hassan said he had begged his brother prior to the trip not to travel to the southern peninsula. “I personally asked him not to go there, to postpone it, but he did not agree,” he said.
Amir Omar Hassan, 26, and a Norwegian friend were grabbed by an armed Bedouin gang soon after they crossed from the Israeli to the Egyptian side of the border, en route to a local beach. The Israeli and two companions were traveling by taxi, Channel 2 News reported. One managed to evade the Bedouin kidnappers.
Khaled Hassan said he remained optimistic and expected that his brother would be delivered back to Israel unharmed. “Usually, these things end well and the captives are released safely,” he said.
“As time passes and the kidnappers don’t get what they want, the pressure increases. I’ve also turned to the [Israeli] embassy in Egypt, and I hope it will end soon,” he concluded.
According to Egyptian media reports, the gang pulled the foreigners from their taxi at gunpoint and forced them into another car. The taxi driver was also kidnapped, but then released. It was the driver, an Egyptian Bedouin, who alerted the Egyptian authorities of the incident.
Intelligence officials said Saturday that a Bedouin had abducted the two to pressure police to release a cousin of his who was being held in Egypt for his suspected involvement in the killing of policemen in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya.
According to Hassan’s family, however, Bedouin are holding him hostage until the Egyptian government releases two men, apparently drug dealers, who are currently imprisoned in Cairo.
Such motives have been common in past abductions. Tourists typically are not held long and are released unharmed.
On Friday, Egyptian police announced that they knew the kidnappers’ identities and were doing everything they could to assure Hassan’s release.
“We are all here crossing our fingers for him. He contacted us and said that he was alive and well,” a friend of Hassan said.
Hassan, a student from Nazareth, is a member of Israel’s Arab minority.
The officials say the tourists, who were abducted Friday, are being held in a desolate mountainous area called Gabal-Maghara in Sinai.
All officials spoke anonymously due to the sensitivity of the subject.