Avera Mengistu's father Eilin holding a megaphone during a rally, asking the prime minister to come talk with him.
(photo credit: UDI SHAHAM)
Hundreds of demonstrators marched in nine locations across Israel on Tuesday calling on the government to act to get Avera Mengistu released from Gaza.
Mengistu, 31, who suffers from mental illness, crossed the border from Israel to Gaza on September 7, 2014. It is believed he is being held by Hamas.
Marches took place in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Ashdod, Ramle, Rehovot, Netanya, Petah Tikva and Kiryat Haim.
In the capital, some 200 people marched from the Bridge of Strings at the entrance to the city to the Prime Minister’s Residence.
On their way, activists blocked roads, including the main junction adjacent to the residence on Balfour Street.
The protesters chanted slogans such as “Avera is still alive,” “We are all Avera,” and “Bibi, wake up, Hamas is not a friend.”
The decision to march came after activists decided the “freedom tent” built adjacent the Prime Minister’s Residence 12 days ago was not enough to raise people’s awareness about the issue, according to protesters.
The tent was set up right before Passover, which commemorates the Jewish people’s freedom.
Mengistu’s family members were expected to leave the tent after the holiday, but they decided to stay until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agrees to meet with them.
When the marchers arrived at the Prime Minister’s Residence, Eilin Mengistu, Avera’s father, picked up the bullhorn and said: “Bibi, you are our prime minister, you are my prime minister. You are holding the key. My son has been held in Gaza for three-and-ahalf years. I know that you have the ability to bring back my son, but you’re not doing it.
“You know that we are sitting here for 10 days already, and you doing nothing. You are not coming to talk to us. You and your cabinet are doing nothing. Bibi Netanyahu – I’m here, come and talk with me.”