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Canadian Palestinian citizen journalist living in Calgary reported missing in Gaza

Canadian Palestinian citizen journalist living in Calgary reported missing in Gaza
Canadian Palestinian citizen journalist living in Calgary reported missing in Gaza

Government officials in Ottawa say they are closely monitoring the situation surrounding a missing Calgary man who worked as a citizen journalist and aid worker in Gaza.

Family and friends of Mansour Shouman say they have not heard from him in a week and are increasingly concerned for his welfare.

Shadi Sakr is a member of the volunteer team in Canada that helps Shouman post videos online. He says the last time Shouman was heard from was at 3:02 p.m. ET on Jan. 21, when he posted a video from the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.

“His last message was, ‘Please send this back quickly. I don’t have much time,'” Sakr said in an interview with CBC News on Sunday.

“That was the last message we heard from him.”

Sakr said that aid agency workers who assisted Shouman witnessed him being arrested by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

“They said they saw him leaving Nasser Hospital to go to Rafah and that he was arrested by the Israeli army on the way,” Sakr said.

Zaheera Soomar, another member of the Canadian team supporting Shouman, told The Canadian Press that three eyewitnesses told her group that Shouman was taken by the Israeli army on Tuesday.

CBC News has not been able to verify this account. A request for comment from the IDF was not returned by the time of publication.

In a statement released Saturday night, Grantly Franklin, spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, wrote: “Global Affairs Canada is aware of a Canadian who is missing in Gaza. Canadian officials continue to closely monitor the situation and are in direct contact with the family members. Due to privacy concerns, no further information can be released.”

Family fled in November

Shouman has been a Canadian citizen since 2006. Two of his five children were born in Canada, but the family moved back to the Palestinian Territory last year after seven years in Calgary. They wanted to be closer to their family and live a life that was in line with their Islamic and social values.

In November, Shouman’s wife and their children fled the besieged Palestinian territory to the United Arab Emirates. But Shouman decided to stay.

Since then, he has reached millions of English speakers through his daily social media updates on the conflict.

Shouman’s mother, Dr. Mai Hussein, spoke to CBC News on Sunday from her home in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

She said she last spoke to her son on Jan. 21. She has been in contact with Canadian authorities about his disappearance since then, but she said she has not received any updates since Friday.

“Can the Canadian government do something and ask the IDF or Israel whether my son is with them or not?” Hussein asked.

“He has nothing to do with them. He is just a citizen journalist trying to help people.”

Shouman’s supporters started a petition on Saturday calling on the Israeli government to release him. By Sunday afternoon, it had already collected more than 90,000 signatures.