Amir Omar Hasan, the 23-year-old Israeli-Arab who was kidnapped together with a Norwegian citizen by a gang of Bedouins
while vacationing in Sinai,
has spoken with his family members in Israel
According to his relatives, Hasan himself had called the family to inform them of his captivity. "He asked us to stay calm, and said that he is healthy," a family member said, adding: "We're not so sure about the circumstance of the actually kidnapping."
According to the same relative, Hasan, a student studying in Eilat,
left Israel for a trip in Sinai on Thursday: "He insisted on traveling there despite his mother's pleas, she begged him not go.
Amir Omer Hasan (Photo: nsrawy.net)
"Today, we received a phone call from a source who told us he had been kidnapped," afterwards, Amir himself would place a call to the family, informing them of his plight.
The kidnapped's sister, who resides in Eilat, attempted, together with her husband, to gather any information she could on her brother's whereabouts.
According to the two, Amir traveled to Dahab, and when he took a cab to the Taba border crossing,
a Norwegian woman, unknown to Hassan, also entered the vehicle.
When the cab neared the beach area of the peninsula it stopped, and under threat, Amir and the Norwegian were pulled out by Bedouins who informed the two that they were being kidnapped.
According to Egyptian reports, the cab was stopped by a group of armed Bedouins who forced the two out, leaving the driver behind to call the police and inform them of the kidnapping.
Then, according to the family, the kidnappers used the Norwegian's mobile phone to call them and others, making sure that the Norwegian ambassador was informed of the kidnapping.
"For now, his condition is good," family members said in wake of the phone call, in which Hasan spoke to his brother, a lawyer from Nazareth, and recanted the order of events.
The Egyptian news agency ONA reported Friday that the kidnappers have informed the Egyptian security officials that they reject any attempt at negotiation.
According to them they plan to hold the two in captivity until Egypt
releases their family members currently jailed in Ismailia.
Earlier today, one of the kidnappers told the news agency that until his relatives are released he will not release either the Israeli or the Norwegian.
Egyptian newspaper A-Shuruk reported that negotiations are in fact underway, and are being mediated by Bedouin tribesmen, who are attempting to secure the release of the hostages.
Senior security officials told the paper that the kidnappers are demanding the release of two of their relatives currently serving time at Ismailia. The source estimate that a release of the hostages could take place within a number of hours, however the claims lack official confirmation.
It did not appear that the Israeli had been targeted because of his nationality, two Israeli officials in Jerusalem said.
"Our initial assessment is that this was criminally motivated," they further said.
Bedouin kidnappers have captured tourists in the past to push for the release of fellow tribesmen from jail. Earlier this month kidnappers briefly seized the country boss of US oil major ExxonMobil
and his wife.
Ahead of the Passover holiday the Counter Terrorism Bureau's issued a travel advisory with a serious warning for the Sinai Peninsula, where there is a high risk of terrorist attacks and kidnappings.
Meir Ohayon contributed to this report
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