Haaretz newspaper today lifted the veil on the detention of an Israeli citzen by Hamas inside Gaza. Israel had not announced his ten-month long confinement, but Israeli security services allegedly believe him to be held by the Qassam Brigades, a military wing of Hamas.
Haaretz said this morning that Israeli Supreme Court of Justice allowed the publishing of the Israeli’s 10-month-long detention at the request of the newspaper.
The newpaper said that it had information alleging that the Israeli man, who reportedly suffers from mental health issues, is either 28 or 29 years old and is named Avraham Mengistu. Reportedly, he is originally Ethiopian but grew up in Askalon city in southern Israel. He was arrested on the Gaza borders in September last year.
According to Haaretz, all the information of the Israeli security services indicates that Hamas arrested this Israeli, and that his fate is unknown.
Hebrew sources said that Haaretz fought throughout the year to prove the disappearance of the man until they were permitted today by the Supreme Court to release details of the news.
Official Israeli security officials said that the Israeli man suffers from mental health problems. A month after the end of the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza, he approached the border without any discernable reason.
An Israeli security official said that Hamas considers Mengistu as new leverage to negotiate a prisoner exchange.
The official stated that Mengistu’s family had been informed and that they had been asked to conceal the disappearance at the time for security reasons, adding that statutory, legal and judicial issues prevented them from making the news public.
According to this official, the man’s family had also been requested not to disclose any details on the subject as the publication of the news could have threatened their son’s safety.
Israeli government services coordinator in the occupied Palestinian lands (oPt), Major General Yoav Mordechai, announced that there are currently 2 Israeli citizens present in the Gaza Strip, one of which was being detained by Hamas.
In a statement, Mordechai confirmed that Avraham Mengistu had voluntarily passed the security fence on the Gaza borders in the month of September.
Israel appealed to regional and international parties to request information on the young man’s fate, and demanded that he be returned to Israel immediately and safely.
Mordechai reaffirmed that Israel has been and will continue making every effort possible to resolve this issue.
Mordechai’s statement also confirmed the presence of a second, unidentified Israeli citizen, from a minority community, in the Gaza Strip.
Haaretz alleged that this individual has been arrested a number of times along the Gaza borders.
UPDATE: The second Israeli citizen has been identified as a Palestinian-Israeli, with some reports stating that he is a Bedouin.