Hundreds of Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv Sunday night in solidarity with the family of Israeli citizen Avera Mengistu, who has been held captive by the Palestinian terror group Hamas for three years in the Gaza Strip.
At the rally, demonstrators stated that the Israeli government should be making a greater effort to secure Mengistu’s release from Hamas-ruled Gaza. The Palestinian terror group is believed to have held Mengistu, who is of Jewish-Ethiopian origin, ever since he voluntarily crossed into the coastal territory in September 2014.
Mengistu’s relatives have said he suffers from mental health issues.
“Avera, our dear brother. Three years ago, when we heard the news of your disappearance, a great darkness fell over our home,” said Mengistu’s brothers, Ilan and Yossi, who read a letter at the rally on behalf of the captured Israeli man’s five siblings.
“For three years now our mother and father cannot sleep…you can’t even imagine how much your absence is felt,” they said.
Hamas has not officially confirmed Mengistu’s detention, but has published content on social media using his image several times.
In May, Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned Hamas for its detention of Mengistu.
“No demand can justify disappearing and bartering over the lives of men, particularly those with serious mental health conditions,” said Omar Shakir, HRW’s director for Israel and the Palestinian territories.