After authorities announced Thursday that two Israeli men were missing in Gaza, the family of one of the men, an Israeli Beduin who crossed the border into the Strip, said that this did not mark the first time that he had crossed the border into the coastal enclave.
The missing Beduin youth, whose identity has yet to be released, is feared to be in Hamas captivity, as is Ashkelon resident Avera Mengistu, who was also announced as missing on Thursday after a gag order on the two separate instances was lifted. Hamas has not confirmed that it is holding either of the Israeli citizens, however Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Thursday that the two men were "in Hamas's hands." A relative of the missing Beduin youth said Thursday that "he crossed the border once to Jordan, once to Egypt and once to Gaza - in February 2010 - and in all three cases he was returned to the family. The fourth time he must have entered Gaza again and didn't return."The missing youth's relative claimed that "nobody in the security forces shared information with the family on this incident." He added that the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories has brought the youth home from Egypt and Gaza in the past. "I hope that he is in Gaza again and that he will come back to us in peace," the relative said. "He is mentally ill and this is not the first time he's gone missing." He said the family "feared that he was killed, but when we heard the news that he was in Gaza - we relaxed. We are not sending any message to Gaza, because if he is there, then his life is not in danger, and we are hopeful that he will be brought back to us soon, because we have no family in Gaza."The head of the local council from which the missing youth hails denied that they had any information about the youth's whereabouts. "If the reports are true, this is a youth that we have brought back twice from Gaza in the past, and brought back twice from Jordan and once from the West Bank," he said. "He suffers from mental problems and always strays from home."
Security analyst Yossi Melman discusses missing Israelis in Gaza