The Mengistu and al-Sayed families also issued a call on Thursday for the release of the two men, both of whom suffer from mental illness.They unveiled a new campaign, #SpecialNeedsCaptives, which highlights the fact that the two have a psychological disability.Mengistu’s brother Ilan, who spoke at the event at The Jerusalem Press Club, noted that his brother was still alive and is being held just two hours from his home.“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," he said. "In two hours the suffering of four years can come to an end."Mengistu, whose family immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia, crossed into Gaza on September 6, 2014. 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 times 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,” he 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 asked the international community, including the UN and the EU, to act on his brother’s behalf. He also called on the government to include the release of the captives in any agreement it made with Hamas.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 war, Sha’aban said. His son and Mengistu 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.
This Rosh Hashanah I will pray for the Goldin and Shaul families that Hamas will return Hadar and Oron to them. I will pray for the Mengistu and al Sayed families, that Hamas will return Avera and Hisham to them. Please pray with me. pic.twitter.com/VjdjogKvpW— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) September 7, 2018