Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization has posted an undated, unverified video of Israeli hostage Avera Mengistu in a purported “message” to outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi. If the video is found to be authentic, it could be the first sign of life from Mengistu since he entered Gaza in 2014.
חמאס פרסם סרטון של אברה מנגיסטו מהשבי לכאורה pic.twitter.com/MmpZK20rmr
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The video opens with a message that says the Hamas military wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, “stresses the failure of outing [IDF] Chief of Staff [Aviv] Kochavi and his lies to the people and government with imaginary and delusional achievements.
“The incoming Chief of Staff [Herzi] Halevi should prepare himself to bear the burden of this failure and its consequences.”
Halevi took up the mantle of Israel’s military leadership a few hours prior to the publication of the video, which showed a man Hamas claimed to be 36-year-old Israeli captive Avera Mengistu, saying, “I am the captive Avera Mengistu. How long will I be here?”
Mengistu, an Ethiopian Israeli with mental health issues, was taken captive in 2014 after he crossed Israel’s southern border into Gaza and hasn’t been seen since.
But the captive’s brother Ilan Mengistu told Israel’s Channel N12 News that he isn’t really sure the man in the video is his brother.
“It’s scary because there is a resemblance, but I don’t know for sure,” he told the news outlet. “They sent it to me and I shared it with all my brothers, and they will tell me,” he added.
In response to Monday’s release of the video, the Prime Minister’s Office pledged in a statement to do everything possible to bring Mengistu – and one other living captive, along with the bodies of two fallen IDF soldiers – home to their loved ones.
“The State of Israel is investing all of its efforts and resources in bringing home its captive and missing sons,” the PMO said.
We call on the media not to cooperate with the Hamas terrorist organization,” the PMO added. “Hamas is busy with making videos instead of taking care of the citizens of the Gaza Strip.”
The terrorist organization is generously funded, equipped and trained by Iran. It is believed to also be holding Israeli Bedouin Hisham al-Sayyed – who also has mental health issues – in addition to the bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who fell during Israel’s war with Hamas in 2014.