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Israel holds Palestinian who vanished in Egypt

A Palestinian from the Gaza Strip who vanished while visiting Egypt this month is under arrest in Israel for alleged security offences, his family and his Israeli lawyer said on Sunday. They said they did not know how Wael Abu Rida, 35, ended up in the Jewish state. The possibility he was seized from Egyptian Sinai territory could embarrass the government in Cairo at a time of major domestic unrest. Abu Rida, who lives in the southern Gaza Strip, went to a town near the Egyptian capital two weeks ago to seek medical treatment for his son, according to his wife, Amani, who accompanied him there. "While we were in Egypt, Wael received a call from a friend asking him to come to Sinai," she told Reuters. "I never heard from him since." The rendezvous, Amani Abu Rida said, was in the Egyptian side of Rafah, a town that straddles the Gaza-Sinai border. She added that she did not know the friend who summoned her husband. Israel's Public Defender's Office said it had received Abu Rida's case on June 22 and assigned him a lawyer, Elziadna Kamal. Reached by phone, Kamal said the case was "security related rather than criminal".

Kamal said he did not know how Abu Rida was brought to Israel and declined to discuss the case further, citing a court-issued gag order in Israel.

Relatives said an unidentified man had informed the family by phone last week that Abu Rida was in Israeli custody, adding that they knew of no ties he may have to Palestinian militants.

"I am clueless. We are all clueless as to why this happened," Abu Rida's brother Ibrahim said.

Amani Abu Rida said her husband was a former policeman who lost his job when Hamas Islamists took over Gaza in a brief 2007 civil war with the rival U.S.-backed Palestinian administration.

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