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.
Israel has turned to both international and regional bodies to determine Mengistu’s condition and demand that Hamas release him to Israel immediately.
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.