Government officials in Ottawa say they are monitoring the situation surrounding a missing Calgary man who was working as a citizen journalist and aid worker in Gaza.
Family and friends of Mansour Shouman say they haven’t heard from him in a week and they are growing more and more concerned over 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 Jan. 21 at 3:02 p.m. ET, when he sent a video from the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.
“His last message was, ‘Please get this back to me quickly. I don’t have a lot of time,'” Sakr said in an interview with CBC News on Sunday.
“That was the last message we heard from him.”
Sakr said workers with the relief organizations Shouman was assisting saw him taken into custody by the Israeli Defence Forces.
“They said they saw him leave the Nasser Hospital to go to Rafah, and that he was apprehended on his way by the IDF,” 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 Israel Defence Forces on Tuesday.
CBC News has not been able to verify this account. We requested a comment from the IDF, but have not received an answer as of publication.
In a statement released Saturday evening, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Grantly Franklin wrote, “Global Affairs Canada is aware of a Canadian who is missing in Gaza. Canadian officials continue to monitor the situation closely and are in direct contact with the family members. Due to privacy considerations, no further information can be disclosed.”
Family fled in November
Shouman has been a Canadian citizen since 2006. Two of his five children were born in Canada, but the family went back to the Palestinian territory last year after seven years in Calgary to be closer to family and live a life that was tied to their Islamic and social norms.
In November, Shouman’s wife and their children fled the besieged Palestinian territory for the United Arab Emirates. But Shouman decided to stay.
Since then, he has reached millions of English speakers through his daily social media updates about the conflict.
Shouman’s mother, Dr. Mai Hussein, spoke to CBC News from her home in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., on Sunday.
She said the last time she spoke to her son was Jan. 21. Since then, she has been in contact with the Canadian government about his disappearance, but says she has not received any updates since Friday.
“Can the Canadian government do something and ask IDF, or ask Israel … is my son with them or not?” Hussein said.
“He has nothing to do with them. He is only a civilian journalist trying to help people.”
Shouman’s supporters started a petition on Saturday, calling on the Israeli government to release him. As of Sunday afternoon, over 90,000 signatures had been collected.