Vandals, apparently Bedouins, sprayed swastikas and a Palestinian Authority flag on a "Free Shalit" protest tent manned by a Bedouin Sheikh near Be’er Sheva on Sunday night. Recent rains saved the tent from being burned down by the attackers.
Sheikh Salam Hozeil of Rahat, located 10 miles northwest of Be’er Sheva, has been "persona non grata" to many of his fellow Bedouin since he launched a campaign two years ago on behalf of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
“They caused a lot of damage,” Sheikh Hozeil said. Besides spraying swastikas, including one on a picture of Shalit, and Nazi slogans on the walls of the tent, the vandals tried to burn down the tent, which did not go up in flames because it still was wet from recent rains.
“I sleep next to the protest tent, and I heard noises in the middle of the night,” he added. When he got up early in the morning, he saw young people running way. “Gilad did not harm anyone... Why should they [\vandals] do such a thing?” he asked.
Sheikh Hozeil took up the cause for the soldier after attending a Jerusalem really for Shalit, who was kidnapped in a deadly Hamas-Army for Islam terrorist attack on an IDF checkpoint at a Gaza crossing in June 2006. The soldier's physical and psychological conditions are not known, and Hamas has refused to honor the Geneva Convention, which requires visits by Red Cross officials and communication with relatives.
After returning from the rally in Jerusalem, the sheikh set up his protest tent at the Beit Kama junction at the heavily traveled Tel Aviv-Be’er Sheva highway. He has suffered death threats from Bedouin whom he thinks are part of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization and who serve on local councils.
Attackers have shot at him and thrown firebombs at his home, but he was not been wounded – yet.
"There are Palestinians in Rahat, and I am afraid that one of them will get an order from Hamas or Al-Qaeda to get rid of me," he said in a previous interview with Israel National News.