Israeli sources said on Monday that the ordeal of Amir Hassan, an Israeli citizen kidnapped last Friday in Sinai and held by a Bedouin gang, was likely to be short.
Mr Hassan, a 23-year-old student from Nazareth who was studying hotel management in Eilat, had crossed into Sinai with his Norwegian girlfriend for a short holiday. The Israeli Counter-Terrorism Bureau has issued stern warnings against Israeli tourists travelling to Sinai due to the danger of terror groups roaming the peninsular. However, Israeli-Arabs like Mr Hassan often feel they have a certain immunity in Egyptian territory, and many of them still holiday on the Sinai coast.
A Bedouin group kidnapped Mr Hassan and his girlfriend from a taxi and issued a demand that two of their relatives, who are in custody in Cairo, be released in return for the couple’s safe return.
Despite early fears that they had been taken by a terror group, the fact that Mr Hassan was allowed to telephone his family in Nazareth and tell them that he was being treated decently suggested otherwise.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry is working along with Norwegian diplomats to secure the couple’s release through the authorities in Cairo.