Photo: AP
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh
Photo: AP

Hamas' Haniyeh has 3 Israeli sisters

Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has 3 sisters living in Israel; Sisters refuse to speak to press, but neighbors say sisters are well-off, much respected in Bedouin community

What a small world: The Bedouin village of Tel Sheva near Be'er Shva houses the three sisters of Hamas leader and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.


Two of the sisters are older than their famous brother and the third sister is younger, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Monday.


The three are married to members of the Abu-Rakik family, one of the most respected in the Bedouin sector.


Two of the sisters are widows and all three carry Israeli IDs.


The sisters refused to be photographed or speak to the press on Sunday.


An elder sister's son said his talented uncle Ismail visited Tel Sheva several times in the past, "long before the intifada and the mess with Israel started."


Residents of the village said the sisters are "generous and nice."


"They are known and lend a helping hand when needed. They live in good houses and their financial situation is excellent. Two live close ton one another."


Salam Abu-Rakik, former head of the Tel Sheva council, and a successful businessman said that "Ismail's sisters are much respected in the village." Abu-Rakik is related to the Ismail Haniyeh's sisters.


"Two of them have a lot of children, and all – I have to say – are successful. Some of them are successful businessmen, others are successful in education, and all are good people and respected in the community," Abu-Rakik said.


'Proud of Haniyeh'


He said he doesn't understand why the sisters have refused to be interviewed.


"If this was my brother, I would have been proud of him and happy to speak about him. Maybe he has bad relations with people here, but he has been elected as prime minister of the Palestinian people and this shows he has good qualities and leadership capabilities. Why be ashamed of him?" Abu-Rakik said.


Residents sad the sisters didn't celebrate the election of their brother. "To the contrary, they prefer to keep a low profile. They are not that religious, unlike their famous brother."


The possibility of relocating to Gaza now that their brother is the Palestinian Prime Minister is not on the agenda, Salam Abu-Rakik said. "They don't even think about it. Me neither. Despite familial relation with people in Gaza, I see myself as a loyal citizen of the State of Israel. It is good for us here, and we are faithful to the States' laws. However, I wouldn't be ashamed if a relative was elected as the prime minister of Palestine."


One of the sisters' sons said: "Maybe we can be a bridge for peace between the two people."


Matan Tzuri contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 04.24.06, 10:05
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