Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a high-ranking representative apologized Friday to members of the Mengistu family, whose 26-year-old son Avraham (Avera) Mengistu disappeared in the Gaza Strip in September, after a series of threatening comments were made during a private meeting.
Colonel (res.) Lior Lotan apologized to the Mengistus in person, saying that "the good relations that we had over the past few months will continue together up until the moment when Avera is brought home."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement saying that the things Lotan said "should not have been said and it is good that Lior spoke with the family members tonight to apologize directly."
In a recording made public by Israel's Channel 10 on Thursday, Lotan made threatening statements to the Mengistu family in a private meeting saying "Whoever turns this into a story involving the Ethiopian community versus the State of Israel, will keep him in Gaza for another year."
"You have two options: The first is to point the finger at Hamas and tell them 'You are holding him [hostage], you are responsible for his fate, return him to us and we want to know that he's alive,'" he told the family. "Then you have the second option, which is to point the finger at Jerusalem and say 'You aren't right, you let him cross and did not respond to letters.'"
"You guys choose. I have my opinion on this -- what will be best for Israel, for him and what will help Hamas, but you have to choose and you will be responsible for the outcome."