When Hamas kidnaps Muslims

Among the hostages taken by Hamas militants in their incursion into Israel on October 7 there are several Bedouins, including 16-year-old Aisha who was kidnapped along with her father and two siblings.

By Roberto Cetera – L’Osservatore Romano

We have no news on the whereabouts of Aisha, a 16-year-old Muslim Bedouin girl, with an Israeli passport. On that terrible morning of 7 October, she had followed her father Youssef to work, along with her brothers Hamza and Bilal. Every morning, Youssef left Rahat, the Bedouin city in Negev where he lived, to go to work on a farm in Holit.

That morning he had taken his three children with him. All four were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists as they were milking cows. They are not the only Bedouins to have been kidnapped. According to Bedouin authorities, there could be seven more, all of whom worked in the kibbutzim around Gaza.

There are fears for the wellbeing of Youssef, who suffers from a serious form of diabetes and is in constant need of insulin. But even more worrying is Aisha’s situation. Although the release of hostages is currently giving precedence to freeing girls and young women, Aisha is not among them.

The fear is that Hamas may try to conceal from Palestinian public opinion the fact that it is responsible also for the kidnapping of Muslims or worse, that it may consider the whole family as “collaborators”, merely for having worked on an Israeli farm.

Although there is still no certainty that the hostages are being detained in Hamas tunnels, with regard to Aisha and her family, there is a prevalent theory that the lack of information is due to Hamas’ embarrassment in having to admit that it kidnapped Muslims. There are about 220,000 Bedouins living in Israel, most of them in the desert area of Negev. Others live in the north between Galilee and Jezreel Valley, and there are small Bedouin communities in Judea, along the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.

Most of them have Israeli citizenship even though in recent years relations with Israel have become increasingly more hostile because of a government plan to relocate many communities that have always lived in the desert, to new partly urban settlements. The case of young Aisha was brought to attention also by the Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan, George Deek, the only Christian Israeli diplomat, with a concerned message on X.

Speaking to L’Osservatore Romano, Deek said: “It is evident that, unlike the other children and young girls, Aisha is not being released by Hamas because it is ashamed to admit that it also kidnapped Muslims. Her case must remain in the spotlight because it shows that Hamas’ contempt for human lives is more important than religious solidarity. I have decided to publish this appeal for Aisha so that it may reach Hamas ears, as well as Israel and the entire international community. We want Aisha to return home immediately just like all her peers”.

This too is Israel: a Christian Israeli diplomat who defends a young Muslim woman kidnapped by Muslim fundamentalists.