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Canadian reported missing in Gaza makes contact with family, posts video online


TORONTO — A spokeswoman for the family of a Palestinian Canadian who was reported missing in the Gaza Strip says he has made contact with his loved ones. 

Zaheera Soomar says Mansour Shouman was documenting the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war when he lost contact with his mother, wife and colleagues in Abu Dhabi and Canada on Jan. 21.

Global Affairs Canada confirmed a few days later that it was aware of a Canadian missing in Gaza.

Soomar, who is in Toronto, says Shouman got in touch with his family and the team supporting his work on Monday and is doing OK. 

She says he has since posted a video of himself online, saying he has been in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis after escaping several bouts of fighting related to the war. 

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly says she saw the good news about Shouman being alive and hopes to speak with  his mother soon. 

In the video posted online, Shouman is seen saying he left his phone behind while heading out to check on a project with others. He said he then became caught up in a series of attacks, during which he took shelter in several locations, and is now back at a hospital complex in Khan Younis. 

"For the last two weeks, we have been going from house to house throughout (the) west of Khan Younis," he said in the video. "We never left Khan Younis, we never thought of leaving Khan Younis."

Shouman previously did oil and gas consulting work in Calgary and is the father of five children who left Gaza with his wife late last year.

He has gained attention for the videos and messages he posts on his social media platforms, documenting the war that began on Oct. 7.

In Toronto, Soomar, who is a member of a team supporting Shouman, said his loved ones are relieved to have heard from him. 

"We're kind of comforted, and we're happy he has made contact but we also continue to be worried about his safety and what happens next," Soomar said.

"There's a lot of decisions that need to be made between his mother, his wife and him and so we just want to respect that."

Gaza has been under constant bombardment as Israel retaliates against Hamas, which controls the territory, for a brutal attack on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 people and saw another 250 taken hostage. 

Amid a massive military response from Israel, the Hamas-run health ministry says more than 27,478 people have been killed, including militants. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2024.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

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