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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘hostage’

Mengistu Family, MKs Call on Govt to Rescue Captive From Hamas

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

The family of a 28-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli man being held in Gaza by Hamas terrorists held a demonstration with supporters on Sunday at their home in Ashkelon to protest what they insist has been the government’s lack of action in rescuing their loved one.

Abera (Avram) Mengistu, a resident of Ashkelon, simply walked across the border into Gaza at the Zikim beach in September 2014, for unknown reasons. He has been missing ever since. Mengistu is known to have had mental health issues; for this reason, he was excused from military service in earlier years.

Hamas has refuted family statements underlining the fact that Avram is mentally unstable. The terror group instead claims the Israeli civilian was captured as a “prisoner of war.”

About 40 people came to the rally, including Knesset members Oren Hazan (Likud), and Ksenia Svetlova and Yehiel ‘Hilik’ Bar, both of the Zionist Union faction. MK Avraham Neguise (Likud), the only current lawmaker from the Ethiopian community, had been scheduled to attend but cancelled at the last minute.

On Sunday, an Israeli government cabinet meeting was held focusing on this issue and on strategies to pressure Hamas into returning Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, a Bedouin civilian with similar mental health issues, who also walked across the border into Gaza and is likewise being held hostage. Also being held captive are the bodies of two IDF officers who fell in battle during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.

The protest was held after the regular Sunday government cabinet meeting, which this week focused on various strategies to pressure Hamas into returning the two young officers’ bodies and the two live captives.

In a statement to the Tazpit Press Service (TPS), Ilan Mengistu, Abera’s brother complained about what he said was inadequate coverage of his brother’s plight. “Media coverage of the Cabinet meeting only dealt with getting the bodies [of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin] back, while the humanitarian concern of my brother was only mentioned in the sidelines, if at all,” he said.

“My brother, Abera, has been held by the organization Hamas for more than 840 days, far from his country and his family and only on Sunday did the cabinet decided to convene to talk about it. It reveals much about their real intention, as part of their roles and moral responsibility, to return an innocent man home,” Mengistu said.

“We must spread the word with our head held high that Israel has a humanitarian duty to bring back Abera. Hamas prisoners should not be allowed family visits and demanding from the world humanitarian assistance for the Gaza Strip while they are still holding my brother, an innocent citizen who has never borne arms and who is utterly unrelated to the conflict surrounding us,” he said.

The Security Cabinet also met Sunday to discuss possible ways to pressure Hamas into returning all the captives. One of the decisions made in that forum was that the bodies of Hamas operatives killed during terror attacks on Israelis will not be returned to their families. Instead, they’ll be interred in a cemetery for enemy dead. Other decisions made by the security cabinet were not revealed.

Like Mengistu, the Goldin and Shaul families both criticized the decision. The Goldin family, related to former Defense Minister Moshe ‘Boogie’ Ya’alon, said that “they would not reward people who decided to act too little and too late.” The Shaul family said they were tired of talking and were waiting for the prime minister to implement the decision with practical actions that demonstrate leadership.

All three families called on the government to raise restrictions on Hamas inmates in Israeli prisons until Hamas frees their children. They also slammed the normalization of ties with Turkey without having included specific agreements on returning their children to Israel. Turkey is strongly tied to the Hamas government in Gaza.

The decision by the cabinet to bury Hamas bodies — a serious act of hostility on the part of Israel in this region from a cultural perspective — followed the release of a vicious video by Hamas, mocking Israel and the parents of Hadar Goldin, with the music of a lullaby.

Goldin’s face was Photoshopped by the terror group onto a terrorist portraying a prisoner. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s face was Photoshopped on to the image of a second terrorist dressed as a clown; he was depicted as a visitor to the prisoner who then blew out candles on a birthday cake, throwing the entire screen into darkness.

Ilana Messika and TPS contributed content to this report.

Hana Levi Julian

Exhibit Features Artwork Of Hamas Hostage

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

They held a funeral but never buried a body. Now, two years later, Dr. Simcha and Leah Goldin of Kfar Saba, Israel, hope an exhibit of their son’s artwork at the UN will propel member states to apply pressure on Hamas to return their son to them.

On August 1, 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, Lt. Hadar Goldin was killed in Gaza two hours after a cease-fire went into effect. Flouting traditional rules of warfare, Hamas ran off with Goldin’s body – and has held onto it ever since.

“Hadar is a victim of the cease-fire rather than a victim of the war,” said his mother, Leah. She explained: “The protocol during a cease fire is that soldiers are not allowed to shoot, and Hamas took advantage of that to ambush these soldiers.”

Since the UN, along with the U.S., brokered the cease-fire, Goldin believes it “bears some responsibility” for retrieving her son’s body. “Look,” she said, “the whole world is now concerned about providing humanitarian aid to Gaza and helping them to rebuild. We would be more than happy to have Gaza be like Singapore next to us. What we are trying to do is link this [assistance] to the humanitarian issue of bringing Hadar and Oron [another dead soldier being held by Hamas] to a decent burial in their homeland.”

While in Israel three months ago, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with the Goldins and promised to “try to help,” said Leah. “We also submitted a letter to him,” she said, “in which we requested that he assign a special envoy to Gaza from the Committee of Missing Persons to assist in bringing Hadar and Oron back to Israel.”

The Goldins, though, are not placing all their eggs in one basket. In addition to lobbying the UN, they have also been challenging Israel’s government to punish Hamas for holding their son’s body hostage.

“Israel provides water and electricity to Gaza residents and even allows the construction of desalination facilities along the Gaza coast. I say to the government: First bring back Hadar and Oron and only after that desalinate the sea water in Gaza,” said Hadar’s father, Simcha, at a press conference last week in Israel.

He continued: “Hamas prisoners in Israel enjoy luxury conditions. First bring back Hadar and Oron and afterward let them enjoy the conditions.”

According to Lea Goldin, “the idea is very simple. During the last 30 years, we have witnessed the tradition that Hamas, Hizbullah, and other terrorist organizations kidnap Israelis and use them as bargaining chips to release their terrorists. Our attitude is that it’s about time to flip the equation – not that terrorists will kidnap soldiers and declare the price, but that Israel will declare the price of Hamas not returning the soldiers.”

The exhibit of Hadar’s artwork – titled “The Final Peace” – will be on display at the UN’s main building until September 23. A larger exhibit, containing some 30-40 items, will be on display at the Conservative Park Avenue Synagogue until January.

Elliot Resnick

Father of IDF Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, z’l, Dies Waiting for Son’s Body

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Herzl Shaul, the father of IDF Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul, z’l, has passed away 10 months after a hard-fought battle of his own with a difficult illness.

The elder Shaul has spent the past two years fighting for the return of his son’s remains from captivity by the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza, but earlier this year he was diagnosed with cancer of the small intestine.

The soldier’s father was treated for the disease at Poriya Medical Center in Tiberias and at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, a global leader in the treatment of cancer, but the disease metastisized. Within the year Herzl Shaul lost 25 kilograms, more than 50 pounds.

This past week he gave up his fight for his son’s remains, as his own fight for life intensified. He was moved to Tel Hashomer Medical Center in Tel Aviv, with the Defense Minister providing accommodations for his wife near the hospital in order for her to remain close to her husband.

Shaul was initially believed to be missing. The six other soldiers inside his armored personnel carrier (APC) were killed. But the evidence gathered from the scene led investigators to the conclusion that the 20-year-old soldier had died in the July 20, 2014 battle during Operation Protection Edge. The terrorists who attacked his Givati Brigades unit stole his body to hold him hostage as a bargaining chip with Israel.

The younger Shaul was subsequently declared by the IDF Chief Rabbi to be a soldier who died but whose burial place is unknown. His family sat shiva, but later requested the IDF designate him as a soldier “missing in action,” which it did.

Herzl and Zehava Shaul for months led a daily vigil outside the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, pressuring the government to bring back the body of their son.

Netanyahu and his wife Sara expressed their condolences to the family on Friday. “In our meetings with Herzl we saw a strong man who devoted all his time and energy toward his health and efforts to return the body of his late son,” the prime minister said, adding a vow that Israel would not fail to retrieve Oron’s remains.

“The Defense Ministry and the people of Israel bow their heads in sorrow at the death of Herzl, of blessed memory,” said Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in his statement. I met with Herzl about a month ago. [He] did everything in his power to return his late son Oron and I am saddened he did not achieve this before he died. The Israeli government is committed to returning the bodies of Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul and Lieutenant Hadar Goldin of blessed memory and bringing them to Israel for burial.”

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot paid tribute to the elder Shaul as well, saying he had pledged to keep fighting to return the bodies of both his son and Goldin. “Herzl was the head of an exemplary family,” he said in a statement.

“I send a strong embrace to [his wife] Zehava and the family at this difficult time. I met Herzl for the last time a week ago, and I promised him that we will continue to do everything we can to bring Oron and Hadar home, to be laid to rest in Israel.”

Hana Levi Julian

Oron Shaul’s Family Blocking Visitation Buses to Hamas Prisoners

Monday, July 11th, 2016

The family of Oron Shaul continues to fight to get their son’s body back from Hamas in Gaza. Oron Shaul was killed in the Gaza war, and his body was stolen by Hamas.

In their previous attempt to put pressure on Hamas to free their son, the family blocked humanitarian aid trucks from passing through the crossing into Gaza, demanding their son’s body be returned from Gaza in exchange for the aid.

They tried to get the prisons to not allow Hamas prisoners to watch the Euro game, but their legal attempts were rejected.

Today, the Oron family and their friends and supporters are blocking buses from Gaza and Hebron that are headed to the Nifcha prison for family visitations with the jailed Hamas terrorists.

The family is calling on the visiting relatives of the Hamas terrorists to tell Gaza chieftain Ismail Heniya to release Oron Shaul’s body from Gaza.

As of 10 AM, the family has blocked 3 buses.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Hundreds Rally to Rescue American Robert Levinson from Iran

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

Some 400 people rallied in Coral Springs, Florida on Saturday for the release of former FBI agent Bob Levinson, who was taken into custody by Iranian police in 2007.

Levinson was captured while on an unauthorized CIA mission on Kish Island, while allegedly trying to determine the status of the country’s race towards nuclear weaponry.

This is the ninth year that Levinson is missing – the longest of any hostage.

If he is still alive, Levinson turns 68 this coming Thursday.

Levinson’s family told reporters they were “devasted” that he was the only hostage not included in the U.S.-Iran prisoner swap back in January.

The family has met with top Obama administration officials but received little information other than reassurances the government would redouble its efforts to pressure Iran to “find” the former FBI agent.

Seven Iranian prisoners were traded in exchange for the five Americans who were freed in January, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and a Christian pastor. But Iranian government officials who originally discussed his release with American 67-year-old Levinson’s whereabouts. However, he was seen in Iranian custody several years ago by an eyewitness, according to media reports.

Hana Levi Julian

Japanese Journalist Held Captive in Syria by Unnamed Terror Group

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

A Japanese journalist is being held captive by in Syria, according to Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who did not name the group holding Yasuda Jumpei. Nor did he confirm the report of the abduction, which allegedly occurred in July.

“We are doing our best… and making full use of various intelligence networks,” he said, but gave no details.

Information about the capture of the journalist was received from the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) organization, Reuters reported. RSF urged Japan to do all it can to save Yasuda, who was a friend and colleague of Japanese war correspondent Kenjo Goto, another journalist who was captured and executed late last year by the Da’esh (ISIS) terror group.

Yasuda himself had been previously abducted and held hostage by an armed group in 2004 while traveling near a combat zone in Iraq. He disappeared in July shortly after crossing the border from Turkey into Syria.

The organization said “an armed group” has been holding Yasuda hostage after kidnapping him shortly after entered Syria in an area controlled by the Al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Nusra Front).

The terrorist organization is demanding a ransom and has begun a countdown for payment. The group is threatening to execute the journalist or to sell him to another group if no ransom is paid.

Earlier this year, the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist organization released a video documenting the beheading by the group of journalist Kenji Goto and his friend, a Japanese contractor.

Hana Levi Julian

Mengisto ‘Did Not Know What He Was Doing,’ Says Brother

Monday, August 17th, 2015

The family of Avraham Mengisto held a rally outside Hadarim Prison on Monday to express their humanitarian demand that their son be released by Hamas from captivity in Gaza.

It was a small gathering – just 20 people, including all of the relatives – held at the time Palestinian Authority Arabs came to visit their own family members incarcerated at the prison.

Avraham’s brother Ilan addressed the visitors, and those gathered, saying, “White you are visiting your loved ones in Israel, Avera Mengisto, an innocenet 29 year old civilian, is being held in Gaza.

“Despite the fact that he is not well and was never a soldier, Hamas continues to hold him hostage and refuses to release him or to give any information about his whereabouts.”

Ilan Mengisto also accused those visiting their prisoner relatives of being “accomplices in the captivity of a helpless man who crossed into Gaza, because he did not know what he was doing.”

Following the rally, organizers told media, “We have chosen to take responsibility without any help from the state, in order to secure the release of Mengisto.”

The family has maintained its silence on the case since the 29-year-old man climbed over the security fence near the seashore and crossed into Gaza on September 7, 2014.

He was spotted at the time by IDF soldiers guarding the border, who called to him to stop – but he kept going and by the time they got to him, he had disappeared into Gaza.

Due to a gag order on the case and advice from the government the family was silent, trusting authorities to continue negotiating with Hamas for their son’s release. Since talks have produced no result, however, the family has now decided to begin publicizing its own demands on humanitarian grounds – with Monday’s small rally a first step in the process.

A second individual – a Bedouin man from southern Israel – likewise crossed into Gaza a number of months ago and has since been held hostage. His identity remains protected under gag order and the request of the family.

 

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/mengisto-did-not-know-what-he-was-doing-says-brother/2015/08/17/

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