Rivlin Asks Ethiopian President to Help Secure Release of Israeli Held by Hamas in Gaza
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin asked Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome on Wednesday to help secure the release of Avera Mengistu, an Ethiopian-Israeli held by Hamas in Gaza.
“I ask you to do what you can for his return,” Rivlin said to Teshome during a state visit to Ethiopia, according to the Hebrew news site Walla.
“Avera Mengistu is an Israeli citizen with Ethiopian roots, but before all else he is a human being,” Rivlin continued, “and I ask you also to do everything possible in order to put the necessary pressure on Hamas for the sake of his release.”
Rivlin added, “This is a humanitarian issue in every way and we must combine our efforts in order to bring about his return together with two of our soldiers held by [Hamas] since the last fighting in Gaza.”
Teshome pledged to raise the issue with Hamas and work to bring about Mengistu’s release.
Mengistu was 28 at the time of his capture by Hamas in September 2014 after he crossed the border with Gaza on his own accord. He is said to be mentally ill and his family believes his disorder was the reason for his action.
In addition, the bodies of two IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, remain in Hamas hands. The two were killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Their families have been campaigning for the return of their bodies ever since.