Families plea with Hamas to release special needs captives

“We all know that within two hours Avera and Hisham could be back in their homes with their families and to have the medical care that they need and deserve,” Avera’s brother Ilan said.

By
September 7, 2018 20:17
2 minute read.
Avera Mengistu

Avera Mengistu. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Special needs people should not be held captive as part of a political negotiating game, the families of Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed said as they called on Hamas to release the Israeli men.

“We all know that within two hours Avera and Hisham could be back in their homes with their families and to have the medical care that they need and deserve,” Avera’s brother Ilan said.

"In two hours the suffering of four years can come to an end,” he added.

He spoke along with Hisham’s father Sha’aban, at a special Jerusalem Press Club event on Thursday, in advance of the New Year holiday. They helped unveil a new hashtag to promote the story of the two men, #SpecialNeedsCaptives.

he campaign poster calling for the release of Averu Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed / Courtesy

Avera, whose family immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia, crossed into Gaza four years ago at the beginning of September. According to Ilan, he was unaware of his action.

“Avera underwent a severe mental nervous breakdown following the death of our brother Michael. He was diagnosed and hospitalized a few tines in a psychiatric hospital, unfortunately he was released before proper treatment was given,” Ilan said.

“Avera crossed the border as an innocent man, who is suffering from a mental disability. His tragedy remains a humanitarian tragedy that crosses all borders,” Ilan said.

Addressing some of his words to his brother, Ilan said, “You my brother, Avera, the love of our hearts, if you hear me, know that we love you, there is not a day that we are not working so hard to free you, be strong for mother and father and for all of us, we all love you.”

Ilan called on the international community, including the United Nations and the European Union, to act on his brother’s behalf.

Sha’aban, who is an Israeli-Bedouin, also called on the Palestinians to pressure Hamas for his son’s release.

The story of the two men is often mistakenly connected to the 2014 Gaza, but that is incorrect, Sha’aban said. His son and Avera crossed into Gaza after the war, because they are suffering from mental illness and their captivity has nothing to do with the war. He noted that his son disappeared there in 2015.

Avera and Hisham have no connection to the military or security conflict. To hold them as a political card is not logical,” Sha’aban said.


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