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September 2, 2015 7:15 am

Protesters Call on Hamas to Release Mentally Handicapped Israeli Held in Gaza

avatar by Michael Bachner / Tazpit News Agency

Gaza. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Gaza. Activists and relatives of Avera Mengistu are calling on Hamas to release him. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

EREZ CROSSING – Activists and relatives of Avera Mengistu, a 28-year-old Israeli-Ethiopian Jew who crossed the border into the Gaza Strip last September and has been missing ever since, protested on Thursday near the Gaza border to demand his release.

“Avera is a mentally unhealthy person who unfortunately ended up in Gaza, and is in need of medical treatment. This is a humanitarian case, not a political or military one. We would like to deliver an unequivocal message to Hamas that they should release Avera Mengistu,” Sahar Mola, one of the activists who participated in the protest, said in an interview with Tazpit.

In April of this year, it came to light that Mengistu, who suffers from mental illness, had crossed the border into Gaza half a year earlier. His whereabouts are unknown, and Hamas refuses to provide information about him. But Mola says that “the family was told, in one way or another, that Avera is held by Hamas.”

Mola calls for international intervention against Hamas: “We expect any regime that seeks legitimacy in the modern Western world to act accordingly. We want the world to intervene in this humanitarian case,” he said to Tazpit.

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Around 20 people participated in Thursday’s protest, which wasn’t approved by the police. The protest took place where Gazans who have working permits inside Israel enter the country.

“We came to block the way for Gazans workers entering Israel,” said Mola. “Israel should stop giving Gazans permits to work in its territory until Avera is released, or until we get information about him.”

Mola called on the public to join and support the protests: “The Mengistu family is poor, they can’t support a widespread campaign, so any help from the public is welcome. More events are planned soon,” he said to Tazpit.

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