Officials from the Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s office threatened to abandon a mentally ill hostage to his fate in Gaza if the family dared to criticize the Israeli government in public, according to a secret recording.
Lior Lotan, the hostages and missing persons coordinator, was apparently caught on tape warning the family of Avera Mengistu that he will be left in captivity for another year if stories about his frustration appeared in the media.
Channel 10 News reported that Lotan, hinting at the recent protests by Ethiopian Israelis charging that they are discriminated against, said, “Anyone who connects Avera to the story between the Ethiopian community and the State of Israel, will leave him another year in Gaza.”
Mengistu, a 28-year-old of Ethiopian descent, had climbed over the security fence into Gaza at an Ashkelon beach last September.
During the meeting, a family representative spoke with Netanyahu on the phone, asking the prime minister why he was ‘ignoring’ the issue of their missing relative, despite the fact that many letters had been sent to him regarding the missing Israeli over the past eight months.
Haaretz reports that responding to the family’s claims against Prime Minister Netanyahu, Lotan said: “You have two possibilities: one is to point a finger at Hamas and say: ‘You are holding Avera, you are responsible for his fate, give him back to us and we want to know he is alive.’ That is one possibility. You have another possibility, to point a finger at Jerusalem instead of Hamas and say: ‘You are no good, you let him cross over, you didn’t answer our letters.’ You choose. I have an opinion on this – what will help Israel, what will help Avera and what will help Hamas. But you choose and you will be responsible for the outcome. I’ll say this as tough as possible: Anyone who connects Avera to the story between the Ethiopian community and the State of Israel, will leave him another year in Gaza. Anyone who puts his story on Avera, his anger, his frustration, his difficulties – will leave Avera another year in Gaza.”