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July 7, 2016 2:40 pm

Netanyahu Asks Addis Ababa to Help Secure Release of Ethiopian Israeli From Hamas Captivity in Gaza

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a joint press conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday. Photo: Israel's Government Press Office/Kobi Gideon

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a joint press conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday. Photo: Israel’s Government Press Office/Kobi Gideon.

JNS.org – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to help Israel secure the release of Avraham Mengistu, an Ethiopian-Israeli man who has been held captive by the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu made the request on Thursday while visiting Addis Ababa, the final stop of his four-country state visit to East Africa this week.

Mengistu entered Gaza in September 2014, and has been held by the terror group Hamas since, along with another Israeli citizen, Hisham al-Sayed, and the bodies of Israeli soldiers Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul, who were both killed in the summer 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

“We always raise the issue of our citizens at various opportunities, including here, of course,” Netanyahu said after his meeting with Desalegn.

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Netanyahu also said that Israel is working to bring 9,000 Ethiopian Jews who are still in Ethiopia to the Jewish state. The Israeli government approved that wave of Ethiopian immigration last November.

“We have a commitment and we are honoring it on a humanitarian and family reunification basis,” Netanyahu said. “This will be carried out under this budget. We are obligated and we are dealing with it.”

“You said Israel has a special place in Ethiopia and Ethiopia has a special place in Israel. And that’s absolutely true. In fact, it goes back 3,000 years to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and I suggest that we don’t wait another 3,000 years to cement this extraordinary relationship,” Netanyahu also told his Ethiopian counterpart.

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