Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Thursday afternoon for the international community to deliver a clear call for the return of the two Israelis being held in Gaza.Netanyahu, in his first public comment on the matter, said he expected the international community “which expresses its concern for the humanitarian situation in Gaza, to issue a clear call for the the release and return of the civilians.” The prime minister issued his statement some six hours after the gag order was lifted on news that a 26-year old Ethiopian, Avera Mengistu, and a non-Jewish Israeli were missing in Gaza.
“We are working for the return of two Israelis who crossed the border into Gaza,” he said. “We see Hamas as responsible for their safety.”Netanyahu said he appointed a representative to coordinate efforts on his behalf on this matter, and to be in contact with the families.“Yesterday I spoke to the parents and the brother of Avraham Mengistu,” he said. “I told them that from the moment that the incident was known, we were not sparing any efforts to return him home.” He said he will meet with the family “soon.”Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who returned to Israel from a visit to Italy, said on Thursday, "Two Israeli civilians are in the Gaza Strip in Hamas's hands. The state of Israel is investing many efforts to return them to their families. We view Hamas as being responsible for their fate and demand their return."Ya'alon said he met with Avera Mengistu's family, updated them on steps to return him to Israel, and that he is also in touch with the family of the second Israeli held in the Strip.
Avera Mengistu"a family talks to press