MSAILEH, Lebanon: The country has only just learned of Ali Talal Daoud, the man who hopped the border fence into Israel over the weekend for the second time.
But residents of the southern village of Msaileh have known of the man and his severe mental illness for some time.
In April, Daoud crossed the fence near Aitaroun into Israel, after throwing his two sons, 3-year-old Hamad and 6-year-old Talal, across the border. Sunday evening, he crossed alone and was returned by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon through the Ras Naqoura crossing Monday.
His father, Talal Daoud, says Ali is suffering from a severe mental illness. He brandishes admittance forms from the Fanar Hospital for Neuropsychiatric Disorders, as well as a diagnosis of a serious psychiatric disorder that includes delusions.
Daoud also shows Ali’s medication, a drug that can be used as a sedative and as a treatment for schizophrenia.
The family hails from Ain Arab, a village near Ghajar. Displaced during the Israeli occupation, they relocated to Msaileh.
“Everything was normal at first,” Talal says of his son, who was born in 1984. Ali expressed a desire to leave the country, and in 2009 went to France with his wife and children, working night shifts at a bakery. “Then he fell into bad company, who stole 300 euros from him,” the father says.
“His life changed, and he returned ill to Lebanon in August 2010.”
Ali appears to have become fixated on emigration. He attempted to enter Italy through Turkey but was turned away. His father says he was attempting to reach Europe via Israel. “Last time he nearly killed his children when he threw them over the fence,” Daoud says.
Three-year-old Hamad has scars on his right foot from the incident, and asks about where his father is.
Ali is currently being interrogated by the Army, who will eventually refer him to a military tribunal. After his last flight, he was sentenced to 30 days in prison and fined LL200,000 for entering enemy lands.
Daoud hopes his son’s medical records will convince the tribunal to be lenient on Ali, and appeals to the president and various ministers to help his son and grandchildren.
Ali’s wife left him after he broke their household items.
Talal says Ali has been admitted to the Fanar Hospital multiple times. “We tried getting him into [psychiatric hospital] Deir al-Salib, but we couldn’t because we had to pay LL35,000 for every 24 hours, in addition to his medication costs.”
The father is at pains to stress his son is not a traitor. “We hate Israel, it is our enemy. My son just wants to escape Lebanon to Europe at any cost.”
“He is irrational. He breaks everything in the house,” says Daoud.
But he adds that his son is calm when employed. He worked as a street cleaner for three months.
A former colleague, Hasan, says that “when Ali cleaned streets he was a hard worker. He never harmed anyone. He would tell me that his only concern in life is leaving.”