Hamas says it holds 2 Israeli captives, remains of 2 soldiers


(JTA) — Hamas said for the first time that it is holding two Israeli men and the remains of two Israeli soldiers.

The Islamist group’s military wing released a televised statement Friday through official Hamas media, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The statement said the group is demanding Israeli concessions in exchange for information about the condition of the “four prisoners of war.”

The two Israelis who are believed to be alive — an Ethiopian Jew and a Bedouin Israeli Arab, both said to be mentally ill — have been missing since separately crossing the border into the Gaza Strip. Hamas, which governs Gaza, had not previously acknowledged having any information about the men’s whereabouts.

Avraham Mengistu, the Ethiopian-Jew, was 29 and suffering from severe depression when he illegally wandered across the border in 2014. His family recently traveled to Geneva to appeal for international help in bringing him home.

The Bedouin, who is from the Negev, has not been publicly identified. He is said to have mild psychological issues and a history of entering Jordan, Egypt and Gaza.

The two dead Israelis whose remains are in Gaza are Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, both killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

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