U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that Ban is calling for the safe return of Avraham Mengistu, a 28-year-old Ethiopian Israeli, and an unidentified Bedouin Arab from southern Israel.
Dujarric said that the U.N. leader “underscores the responsibility of all parties to protect and respect the rights of civilians,” and that they will continue to closely monitor the situation, the Associated Press reported.
There have been conflicting reports on the current location of Mengistu, who has a history of mental illness and apparently jumped the border fence into Gaza. Hamas claims that it has questioned then released Mengistu after it determined he was not a soldier. Others have speculated that he may have crossed into Egypt through a Gaza tunnel, Haaretz reported.
Nevertheless, Israel has officially called on Hamas to release Mengistu. Israel considers both cases to be humanitarian and has said it will not swap Palestinian prisoners for their release.