Family of Ethiopian-Israeli held by Hamas holds demonstration to mark 2 years of captivity


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The family of an Ethiopian-Israeli man held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip demonstrated in front of the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem to mark two years since his disappearance.

A crowd of supporters joined the family of Avraham Abera Mengistu at the rally Sunday night, The Times of Israel reported.

Mengistu, 30, of Ashkelon, is believed to have voluntarily climbed over the security fence between Israel and Gaza in September 2014, and since then has not been heard from. He suffers from mental illness and was exempt from serving in Israel’s military.

“We see that two years have passed, and my brother Abera is still imprisoned, and we see that they are not taking action to return him home,” Mengistu’s brother, Ilan, told supporters at the demonstration. “There’s no justifying his imprisonment, and we are going to fight in order to bring him home.”

The family also has appealed to the international community to intervene with Hamas. Last week, the family marched alone at Zikim beach, near where Mengistu crossed into Gaza.

Hamas has admitted that it holds Mengistu, as well as a Bedouin-Israeli man who also is said to be mentally ill, who crossed into Gaza. Hamas also holds the remains of two Israeli soldiers, Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul, both killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

Mengistu immigrated with his family to Israel in 1991 when he was 5 years old.

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