Three and two years, respectively, after the fact, Human Right Watch on Tuesday has finally issued a condemnation of the detention by Hamas of two mentally disabled Israeli citizens who had crossed the border into the Gaza Strip in 2014 and 2015.
“Hamas’s refusal to confirm its apparent prolonged detention of men with mental health conditions and no connection to the hostilities is cruel and indefensible,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “No grievance or objective can justify holding people incommunicado and bartering over their fates.”
Hamas has conditioned revealing any information about the two missing men on the release of murderous terrorists from Israeli prisons. An April 2016 Hamas video refers to Mangistu and al-Sayed as soldiers, showing each in photoshopped military uniforms, alongside photographs of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, whose remains have been in Hams custody since they had been killed in the 2014 war.
In an April 15, 2017 speech, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal declared that “any information about the Israeli captives would carry a price.”
Avera Mangistu and Hisham al-Sayed, both of whom have histories of wandering far on foot, including across borders, have not been heard from since they entered Gaza.
“Hamas authorities should officially and unconditionally disclose whether the men remain in their custody and release them unless they can provide a credible legal basis for continuing to hold them,” HRW stated. “Until they are released, Hamas should treat them humanely, and allow them to communicate with their families…”