President Reuven Rivlin confirmed Thursday that “all relevant authorities are working on the case” of 28-year-old Ethiopian immigrant to Israel, Avraham Mengisto.
The young man voluntarily crossed the border into Gaza 10 months ago and has not been seen since, according to his mother, who says she is holding Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror group responsible for his well-being.
Rivlin told journalists at a news conference the release of Mengisto, who is believed to be possibly mentally ill, is a “humanitarian issue.”
The president said in a statement, “We expect those holding him to act accordingly and release him while his condition is stable.” He added that Israel’s security and other government personnel would “continue to make every effort to bring the incident to a close as soon as possible.”
Mengisto walked south along the shoreline from his home in Ashkelon on September 8, 2014, and then simply kept going, crossing the border into Gaza along the way.
Hamas reportedly is claiming the Israeli was taken into custody for questioning but released when it was discovered that he was not a soldier. As it happens, Mengisto has never served in the IDF due to his health problems.
The terror group claims that he entered one of the smuggling tunnels in the southern border town of Rafah and exited the enclave to head into Egypt in order to proceed towards Ethiopia.
Israeli authorities say the terrorist officials are lying, either in order to preserve him as an “asset” for future negotiations with Israel over a possible prisoner swap, or because something happened to him along the way and the person responsible for him is hiding that information – even from Hamas officials.