Much is made of three Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers being held hostage in Lebanon and Gaza, while Israel's Jews and the international community have all but forgotten about an Israeli Druze soldier missing since 2005.
Majdi Halabi, 19, was just five months into his IDF basic training when he disappeared on May 24, 2005 while en route from his home in Daliat al-Carmel to his base in nearby Haifa.
An initial search for Halabi turned up almost nothing, and while the army, police and Halabi's extended family continue to look for evidence of his whereabouts, there are no mainstream media reports or global human rights movements to keep his case in the public eye.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post this week, Samih Halabi said he is certain his nephew has been abducted by Islamic terrorists, and hopes to convince the rest of Israel to dedicate as much effort to securing Majdi's release as it has to seeking the freedom of Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
"We are left in no doubt that Majdi - like Shalit, Goldwasser and Regev - has been kidnapped. True, we have no direct evidence, but we know that the strategy of the terrorist organizations is to capture unsuspecting Israeli soldiers, and the circumstances are pointing all the time more in this direction," said Samih, himself a retired IDF colonel.
"We cannot know by whom (Majdi was abducted), but we feel he is being held in Syria, Lebanon or possibly even in Nablus or Jenin in the West Bank, to be used as a bargaining chip in the future," Samih added.
The boy's uncle has scheduled a mass meeting at Daliat al-Carmel's town hall for May 24 that he hopes will raise national and international awareness of Majdi's plight.
IDF Lieutenant-Colonel Hasson Hasson, who is heading up the army's efforts to find Majdi, reminded Israelis in remarks to the Post that the local Druze are loyal and dedicated citizens of Israel that the nation's Jewish majority should see as equally valuable defenders of the nation.
"We believe in a strong Israel and the Druze soldier today is no different from his Jewish comrade in commitment and fighting ability. We feel we are together with the Jewish people, like brothers," said Hasson.
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