Activists are planning to carry out marches throughout the country on Tuesday to raise awareness for their fight for the release of Avera Mengistu from his captivity in Gaza.Mengistu, 31, suffers from mental illness and crossed the border from Israel to Gaza on September 7, 2014. He is believed to be held by Hamas.The activists are planning marches in eight cities on Tuesday: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Ashdod, Ramla, Rehovot, Natanya and Kiryat Haim.The march in Jerusalem will start from the Chords Bridge at the entrance of the city and will end at the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street.
Brother of missing Israeli Avraham Mengistu calls for government to bring him back from Gaza (July 9, 2015)
Yonit Fenta, the head of the campaign to release Mengistu, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that hundreds are planning to participate in the marches throughout the country.The idea to carry out marches came as activists felt that the protest tent, built adjacent the Prime Minister’s Residence in the capital 10 days ago, was not enough to raise people’s awareness about the issue, she said. The tent was set up right before Passover, a holiday that commemorates the Jewish people’s freedom. Throughout the holiday, many people came to support the activists and family. At some points, the activists gathered for small rallies and blocked the adjacent roads.Several politicians, including MK Michal Biran (Zionist Union), MK Oren Hazan (Likud) and former MK Pnina Tamnu-Shata (Yesh Atid), also visited the tent.Fenta said she hopes to see more politicians coming, especially from the ruling Likud party.“We want to see people who are close to the prime minister, who have an influence on decision making,” she said.Mengistu’s family members were supposed to leave the “freedom tent” after the holiday, but according to Fenta, they decided to stay there until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agrees to meet with them.Activists at the tent told the Post they would not leave until Mengistu is back.In February 2017, the Caucus for the Return of Avera Mengistu was initiated by members of his family in cooperation with the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs Committee chairman Avraham Neguise (Likud). Caucus chairman Neguise then called for action and called on the government to change the way Israel treats Hamas prisoners it holds.“We shall not remain silent,” he said then. “The activists were quiet in order to give the government the room to act, but those days are over. What the government has to do now is immediately halt all the visits of Hamas prisoners’ families in Israeli prisons and stop all humanitarian aid to the organization in Gaza.”“It is impossible that Agrenesh and Eilin [Mengistu’s parents] do not know if their son is alive while families of terrorists’ from Hamas are visiting here with Israeli assistance,” Neguise said.
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