The mother of a (possibly) mentally ill young man who crossed the southern border of Israel into Gaza is blaming Hamas for her son’s captivity.
A second civilian, also in his 20s, is being held captive in Gaza as well. All information about the second man, a Negev Bedouin resident of the town of Hura, has been censored, however.
Avraham Mengisto’s mother told media in a briefing today (Thursday, July 9) while meeting with Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni that she holds Gaza’s ruling terror organization responsible for the welfare of her 28-year-old son.
“Hamas is responsible for my son’s fate,” his mother said. “They cannot shirk their responsibility. I [also] hope the state will not cease to act for his return.”
The mayor visited her at the family home in Ashkelon on Thursday after the news of Avraham’s disappearance was cleared for publication. “The family is going through a very difficult time, after the double tragedy that they’ve endured,” Shimoni said. “Askelon Municipality’s social services department has been accompanying them since the first moment. We embrace the family and send them strength and hope that Avraham will be back with his family quickly,” he added.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Avraham’s brother Ilan subsequently said “[We] have decided to behave with restraint and give the government time to get our brother back home and we also ask the people of Israel to show restraint… The family considers this a humanitarian issue and we call on the international community to get involved and work to secure the release of my brother,” he said. “I ask that Hamas consider the condition of my brother and release him,” he added.
Information about Avraham’s disappearance 10 months ago only became public today due to the lifting of a gag order.
Mengisto left his home in Ashkelon early on September 8, 2014, and apparently kept walking along the shoreline until he crossed the border into Gaza. This is not the first time that Mengisto has gone missing; there have been three reports of similar incidents registered with the social services department, although none involved a border crossing.
Mengisto’s mother Agernesh lives in Ashkelon, and his father Ayele lives in central Israel. He is one of nine children in the family.
According to the Defense Ministry there is no concrete information as to his fate; IDF Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Yoav Mordechai told media, however, that current information indicates Mengisto is being held by Hamas.
A military source said Mengisto had initially been arrested by Hamas after crossing the border in September, but the terror organization said it released him because he was not a soldier. The source said there have been several attempts since that time to negotiate for his release.
A Hamas source in Gaza told Ynet that Mengisto is no longer in the region; the source said the Israeli exited the enclave via the tunnels in the southern border town of Rafah, and headed into Egypt.
Mengisto’s grieving mother added that despite her efforts to remain strong, “It hurts me. Since he disappeared, my life has come to a stop.
“Every day I wait for him to come through the door and say ‘hello.’ I pray for his return, and ask anyone who can help us to do so.”
Hana Levi Julian