The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, broadcast a video message on Monday showing footage of captured Israeli soldier Avera Mengistu.
In the video, Mengistu complains about Israeli negligence, saying, “How long will I and my comrades remain here after these long years of suffering and pain? Where are the state and the people of Israel?”
Hamas releases undated video of Israeli captive Avera Mengistu, believed held in Gaza since 2014 pic.twitter.com/e9cGqLpL3o
— Sara Miller (@saramill) January 16, 2023
Mengistu’s family called on the Israeli government to act quickly to return their son home.
The footage was released on the occasion of the upcoming inauguration of Herzi Halevi as the new Israeli army commander, to succeed Aviv Kochavi.
In the video, Al-Qassam Brigades said, “We confirm the failure of the former Israeli Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi, and his institution. He lied to his people and government and his successor must be prepared to bear the burdens of this failure and its consequences.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that the release of Mengistu’s video aims at delaying any chance of reaching a prisoner exchange deal.
Yalo Mengistu, the brother of the Israeli prisoner, told the Hebrew newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth: “Although I cannot confirm 100% that it is him, he really looked like my brother. Of course, he has changed in the last 8 years.”
Mengistu’s family said in a statement that the video is further evidence that their son is alive, and added, “The state (of Israel) must move quickly to bring him home, especially since he appears to be in good health and is being taken care of.”
In April 2016, the Al-Qassam Brigades announced, for the first time, that they had captured four Israeli soldiers; two of them, Shaul Aron and Hadar Goldin, were detained during the Israeli war on Gaza in 2014, while the other two are Avira Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed, who entered the Strip in unclear circumstances.
Hamas did not disclose the fate of the four detainees, and the location of their detention is still unknown.
Last month, the chief of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, threatened to permanently close the file of prisoner exchange negotiations with Israel, in response to Tel Aviv’s “procrastination”.
In June 2021, the Israeli channel Kan said that Tel Aviv conditions the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip to the return of its four prisoners.
Gaza Strip, with a population of more than two million people, has been under a hermetic Israeli siege since 2006.
(The Palestine Chronicle, Al Jazeera)