February 26th, 2024

Palestinian-Canadian citizen journalist reported missing in Gaza

By The Canadian Press on January 28, 2024.

A member of a team supporting Mansour Shouman, a Canadian-Palestinian man documenting humanitarian efforts during the Israel-Hamas war, says loved ones have lost contact with the citizen journalist who was in Gaza. Shouman is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

A member of a team supporting a Canadian-Palestinian man documenting humanitarian efforts during the Israel-Hamas war says loved ones have lost contact with the citizen journalist in Gaza.

Mansour Shouman was last heard from last Sunday around 4 p.m., Zaheera Soomar said.

“Initially, we didn’t think anything of it because even in the days preceding that, there were times when he didn’t message us immediately because he couldn’t get to a hot spot,” said Soomar, who is based in Canada.

“We also knew from social media that Khan Younis had started being bombed very early on Monday morning, so we assumed he couldn’t get to where he needed to, he probably needed to take shelter and kind of see to himself.”

But as the days stretched on with no contact Soomar and other team members supporting Shouman along with his family began to worry. They started making inquiries with contacts on the ground.

Eventually, they heard on Monday and Tuesday that Shouman was seen at the Nasser Hospital along the southern Gaza Strip but was headed for nearby Rafah.

Soomar said three eyewitnesses told the group supporting Shouman he was taken Tuesday by Israel Defense Forces on the way to Rafah, allegations that have not been confirmed.

Soomar and the group supporting Shouman have since reported him missing to Canadian authorities and reached out to several politicians for help.

Global Affairs Canada confirmed it 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,” spokesperson Grantly Franklin said in an email.

The government organization refused to disclose further information about the missing individual, citing “privacy considerations.”

Shouman previously completed oil and gas consulting work in Calgary and is the father of five children who left Gaza with his wife last year for Abu Dhabi, where his mother resides.

Soomar speaks to the family several times a day and said Shouman’s mother is “beyond distraught.”

“His wife is trying to be as strong as she possibly can for the sake of her five kids,” Soomar said.

Shouman stayed behind in Gaza when his family left because he felt a duty to document the war and its ramifications.

He would often post on social media platforms about how funds donated to aid communities in Gaza were being used to build shelter, provide food and distribute sanitary, feminine hygiene and baby products.

Many of the posts would document the conditions people were living in and share news of recent attacks.

“Myself and some of our team would watch and would say, ‘Oh my God, Mansour, are you OK? Like how are you living through this?'” Soomar recalled.

“We would sometimes be the distraught ones and he would be the positive one and say just have faith, things will change.”

War has been raging on between Israel and Hamas since October, resulting in thousands of lives lost.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2024.

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