Hamas: Israel lying about Mengistu's date of entry to Gaza and his mental state

Israel and Hamas not communicating via a third party for Ethiopian-Israeli's release, official says.

Avera Mengistu (photo credit: Courtesy)
Avera Mengistu
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel is lying about when Ethiopian-Israeli Avera Mengistu entered Gaza, and contrary to Israeli claims, he is not mentally ill, Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of Hamas’s political bureau, says.
The news that Avera Mengistu and an unnamed Israeli Beduin man were missing in the Gaza Strip was reported earlier this month, after a publication ban was lifted on the story.
“The Israeli citizen of Ethiopian descent, Avera Mengistu, was taken prisoner during the war of aggression against Gaza, Operation Protective Edge,” Abu Marzouk said.
He said Israel was lying when it claimed that Mengistu entered Gaza in September 2014. He said Israel requested information on the “Ethiopian soldier” in August 2014.
Abu Marzouk said that Mengistu, 28, entered the Strip in an IDF uniform during last summer’s war after walking 40 kilometers from Beersheba.
The Hamas official denied that Israel and Hamas were communicating via a third party for Mengistu’s release in a prisoner exchange, he told Al Jazeera.
He also denied that Mengistu had psychiatric issues, saying that Israel claimed this in order to “disparage him” because he is black and it does not really care about him.
“If he was white with blue eyes, Israel would be acting differently. But he is black and Ethiopian so he isn’t important to the Israelis, and so they belittled him and tagged him with the label of mentally disturbed,” Abu Marzouk said.
“The Israelis know the truth,” he added.
Repeating what Hamas said earlier this month, an official from the organization said on Thursday that it would provide information on the missing Israelis only if Israel released Palestinians who were rearrested after being released in the Gilad Schalit prisoner swap in 2011.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking after the publication ban was lifted, said Israel was doing everything in its power to free Mengistu and the Beduin Israeli.
“We will not relent, and will do what must be done in order to bring back the two citizens held in Gaza,” Netanyahu said on Friday, calling Hamas “a cynical, brutal enemy which denies the basic humanitarian obligation to return innocent civilians back to their home countries.”