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Canada urged to act over Gaza reporter 'abducted by Israel'

Canada urged to act after journalist Mansour Shouman is 'abducted by Israel' in Gaza
4 min read
29 January, 2024
Mansour Shouman, a Palestinian-Canadian citizen journalist with a following of over 283,000 on Instagram, was reported missing last week.
Mansour Shouman was reportedly leaving Khan Younis for Rafah when he went missing [Mansour Shouman]

Activists are urging Canada to act over the alleged abduction of Palestinian-Canadian journalist Mansour Shouman in Gaza.

Shouman, a citizen journalist with a following of over 283,000 on Instagram, was reported missing last week amid the Israeli army's assault on Gaza's south. 

"We have learnt that Mansour Shouman, a father, a son and humanitarian may have been abducted by the IDF [Israeli military], as reported by several eyewitness accounts," read a post from the journalist's social media accounts on Saturday.

A member of a team supporting Shouman from Canada told The New Arab that she last heard from him on Sunday 21 January.

"We did not hear from him on Monday, that's when we started worrying. I got in touch with a few people in Khan Younis, three different sources said he left to go to Rafah," Zaheera Soomar told TNA.

"I then got in touch with people in Rafah and people said they did not see Mansour there. On Saturday, three eyewitnesses said they saw he was arrested by IDF on Tuesday when he was moving from Khan Younis."

The eyewitness reports, which The New Arab has been unable to confirm, have raised fears for Shouman’s safety and prompted activists to demand that Canada take action.

"As of Saturday morning, our call to the government has been we believe he has been arrested by the IDF, and if he has been, we need to find out where he is and he needs to be extracted," Soomar said.

She adds that the government has been "responsive" to emails, but not acting with sufficient urgency as Shouman is an independent journalist.

"We believe the govt can do more and act faster than what they are doing," Soomar said.

A petition demanding that Ottowa secure Shouman's release has gathered over 100,000 signatures, while supporters of the journalist have urged Canadians to write directly to their government.

On Saturday, Global Affairs Canada acknowledged Shouman's situation in a statement.

"Canadian officials continue to monitor the situation closely and are in direct contact with the family members," spokesperson Grantly Franklin was quoted by the Toronto Star as saying. "Due to privacy considerations, no further information can be disclosed."

Shouman moved from Canada to Gaza in 2022 with his wife and five children. When Israel's latest onslaught on Gaza broke out in October, he was forced to flee with his family from Gaza City.

“Half of our neighbourhood was bombed to the ground," Shouman later told the Star in an interview. "And then we started hearing rumours that our building was next."

His reports on social media captured a broad audience and included live broadcasts with US celebrities Amerie and Amanda Seales, as well as Palestinian-American imam Omar Suleiman.

Israel has been accused of deliberately targeting journalists in Gaza, where at least 120 have been killed in Israel's onslaught, according to the Gaza media office.

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In December, Diaa Al-Kahlout, the Gaza bureau chief for Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, TNA's sister site, was arrested at gunpoint, beaten, and stripped by Israeli forces along with dozens of other Palestinian men.

Following his release earlier this month, Kahlout said he was subjected to beatings and torture several times, particularly by agents of the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency.

This included the "Shabah" technique - a torture method where prisoners are hung by their hands for hours or even days at a time.

Kahlout said that he had spent 25 out of the 33 days of his detention forced to remain in a kneeling position, which caused him severe pain.

Israel has killed 122 journalists since 7 October, as well as family members of reporters.