Two Israeli citizens being held in Gaza
A Palestinian man waves the green flag of the Islamist movement Hamas during a demonstration outside the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on July 3, 2015. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
An Israeli citizen was kidnapped by Hamas over ten months ago and has been held there ever since, it was cleared for publication Thursday morning.
Avraham Mengistu, 28, an Israeli citizen of Ethiopian origin, attempted to cross the border into Gaza in September. The IDF spotted him and attempted to stop him, but he ran across before he could be apprehended; Hamas arrested him upon his arrival.
Hamas took Mengistu to a hiding place and passed on information to his family shortly thereafter.
The Defense Ministry determined that Mengistu crossed the fence due to mental illness and that the move was not in any way a deliberate security risk.
The Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) determined, as well, that Mengistu was prone to disappear from home for long stretches of time without contacting his family. On at least three occasions, his family reported his disappearances to police; social services in Ashkelon were aware of the situation.
Mengistu has eight siblings; his father lives in central Israel and his mother lives in Ashkelon.
Israeli officials stated Thursday that Mengistu's status remains unknown; however, a Hamas official has reportedly said that the Israeli was not being held by Hamas for collateral for terror releases, as is the norm, because he is not an IDF soldier. The official claimed he was actually released months ago into Gaza civilian life but has not been seen or heard from since.
A second citizen, an Israeli Arab from the Bedouin village of Hura, is also being held by Hamas.
The case has been under gag order until now in Israel, although several Arabic outlets have been reporting on the situation for months.
Hamas officials have not stated publicly that they were holding Israelis, but did hint on several occasions that they were holding more cards in their hands for negotiations than the bodies of slain IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.
By Koby Finkler
- Palestinian Policeman Kills Israeli Soldier, Injures Two Others Before Being Shot Dead in Gaza
- Two killed in Paris kosher supermarket, five hostages being held: French police
- Hizbullah leader: Lebanon's longest-held prisoner in Israel to be released within two to three months
- Two Palestinian women die; Israel says it captured Palestinian would-be bomber in Tel Aviv