The family of Avera Mengistu, an Israeli civilian held captive by Hamas in Gaza since September 2014, appealed for his release in a video handed to Hamas officials in late 2016, the Times of Israel reported for the first time on Thursday.
The video was reportedly transferred to Hamas by the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) aid group, who said they were told that it had reached Hamas officials and that Mengistu himself had seen it.
In the video, Mengistu’s mother Agranash and brother Ilan, speaking Amharic and Hebrew with Arabic subtitles, plead for his release:
“It’s not possible that the hearts of Hamas officials don’t curdle when they hear this,” Agranash said. “My son Avera entered Gaza by accident because he was ill. Why won’t Hamas release him? He hasn’t seen a doctor or received the medical care he needs. We’re out of ideas. I want to see him, and if I have to, I’ll go to him. I’m asking, people of Hamas, show him to me, let him go.”
Israeli officials have been working to secure the release of Mengistu, along with the remains of two Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin Hy”d and Oron Shaul Hy”d killed in the 2014 Gaza war.
Meanwhile, the Israeli and U.S. diplomats expressed outrage at the refusal of the U.N. Economic and Social Council to insert a one-line amendment calling “for the immediate release of the civilians and soldiers being held in Gaza by Hamas” into a broader condemnation of Israeli actions in Gaza.
The resolution — which passed on Tuesday 45-2 — did not mention Hamas or Palestinian violence against Israel.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted:
“HARD TO BELIEVE AT THE UN! At UNECOSOC yesterday the EU members did not support an Israel initiative to include in the usual anti Israel texts a sentence calling for the immediate release of the civilians and soldiers held in Gaza by Hamas! Disappointing,” Nahshon wrote.
U.S. Ambassador to ECOSOC, Kelley Currie, said that Washington “calls on Hamas to return the [bodies of] Israeli Defense Forces soldiers…and Israeli civilians…to their families immediately.”
The five-member states who voted in favor of the Israeli amendment on Hamas were: the United States, Canada, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay. 18 countries opposed it
and 23 abstained, including all E.U. member states on the council; Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom.