After 40-year old Hamdan Suleiman Attaya was shot and killed outside his home Thursday, just 300 meters from the Israeli border, 1,000 friends and family attended his funeral Friday, shouting angry slogans against Israel. Eyewitnesses say that Attaya was shot and killed by Israeli border guards stationed at the Kerem Shalom border crossing just a few hundred meters from his home. Egyptian security officials investigating the death confirmed that the shot came from across the border, but would give no further details.
Egyptian officials called for calm, while Attaya's family and friends rallied in his name to demand an end to Israeli violence against Bedouins.
The Bedouin population are Arabs, traditionally shepherds, that are not considered legitimate by the Israeli authorities. The Bedouin population inside Israel is targeted by a number of discriminatory laws that prevent them from building permanent structures, and consider their villages 'unrecognized' and subject to demolition by Israeli authorities. The Bedouins living in the Sinai peninsula, near the Israeli border, have long been subjected to cross-border attacks by Israeli forces – in 1967, the Sinai was attacked and occupied by Israeli troops for a short while. Unlike the West Bank and Gaza, however, Israel withdrew from the Sinai, leaving it in Egyptian control.
Egypt's government, afraid of creating any waves with its close ally, Israel, has blown over the affair with little investigation and no call for the Israeli side to investigate.
"We cannot risk creating an international crisis on the borders”, said Hisham Shaheen, representative for north Sinai in Egypt's parliament. “We told them (the Bedouins) not to go out in massive rallies," he told The Associated Press, adding, “We are working on controlling our angry sons and people.”
Neither Shaheen nor any other Egyptian politician has responded to the pleas of the Sinai Bedouin population to find the perpetrator of the cross-border shooting that killed Attaya. Instead, they have focused on quelling any discontent or unrest that may result from the incident.