In A 1st, Hamas Publishes Video Of Israeli Captive from 2014 As Message To New IDF Chief Of Staff

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Taghreed Saadeh

Today, Monday, the “Shadow Unit” of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), broadcast a video message to its captive Israeli soldier, Abraham Mengistu.

Mengistu appeared in the video, saying, “How long will I and my comrades remain here after these long years of suffering and pain? Where is the state and people of Israel from our destiny?”

Prior to showing the video clip of the captured (Israeli) soldier, the Al-Qassam Brigades described the video message as “important on the occasion of the exchange of the new Israeli Chiefs of Staff.”

Today, Monday, General Herzi Halevi became the 23rd Chief of Staff of the occupation army, succeeding Aviv Kochavi.

Al-Qassam Brigades said in its message, “We confirm the failure of the former Israeli Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi, and his institution, and his lie to his people and government with alleged and delusional achievements, and his successor, Halevy, must prepare himself to bear the burdens of this failure and its consequences.”

The Al-Qassam Brigades holds four captured Israeli soldiers, including two soldiers who were captured in the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip in 2014, along with an Ethiopian Israeli named Abraham Magnesium, and another from the Negev.

On the other hand, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that the publication of Mengistu’s video is a hoax that delays any chance of reaching a prisoner exchange deal.

The statement added that Netanyahu said that his government had instructed the army to formulate military plans to confront existing threats against Israel.

He said, “The State of Israel is investing all its resources and efforts to return its imprisoned and missing children to their homeland, to the State of Israel.”

The Israeli army spokesman, Ran Kochav, told the Israeli radio, Kan, that the army is working to assess the credibility of the video clip.

“We are studying this video,” he told the radio. I hope the video is real and Mengistu is completely healthy. It is difficult for me to say what level of credibility the video is.”

For his part, Yalo Mengistu, the brother of the Israeli prisoner, said – to the Hebrew newspaper “Yedioth Ahronoth” – I cannot confirm with 100% that it is him, but it really seems that he is my brother, he has changed in 8 years.

In a related context, Mengistu’s family said in a statement that this video is further evidence that their son is alive, and added, “The Israeli state must move quickly to return him home, especially since he appears to be in good health and is being taken care of. There is no reason for him to remain in detention for another day.” She commented on the video, saying, “It’s great to see him (Mengistu). This is the first time we’ve seen him (since his detention).”

In April 2016, the Al-Qassam Brigades announced – for the first time – that it had 4 captured Israeli soldiers, including the two soldiers, Shaul Aron and Hadar Goldin, who were captured during the war on the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, and the other two are Abraham Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed, who entered the Strip in unclear circumstances.

The movement does not disclose the fate of the four detainees, and it is not known where they are being held.

In the middle of last month, the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, threatened to permanently close the file of prisoner exchange negotiations with Israel, in response to Tel Aviv’s “procrastination”.

In June 2021, the official Israeli “Kan” channel said that Tel Aviv requires the return of its four prisoners before the start of any reconstruction process in the Gaza Strip, which is inhabited by more than two million Palestinians and has been besieged by Israel since the summer of 2006, while the Hamas movement refuses to link the reconstruction and the exchange of prisoners. It insists on making a deal according to its terms, represented in the liberation of a large number of Palestinian prisoners held by the occupation.

The prisoner exchange deal that was concluded in 2011 to secure the release of Shalit was considered very controversial in the Israeli community, according to the Hebrew newspapers, as many in the Israeli security establishment at the time described it as unbalanced and in favor of Hamas. Many of the 1,027 Palestinian prisoners who were released returned to fight against Israel – such as Yahya Sinwar, who is now the leader of Hamas in Gaza.

On July 6, 2019, the Martyr Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, denied the Israeli occupation government’s request through any of the mediators to open the file of the missing Israeli of Ethiopian origin, Abraham Mengistu, who has been missing in the Gaza Strip since 2014.

Mengistu is a settler from the occupied city of Ashkelon, and in July 2015, Israeli censors allowed the news of his disappearance to be published after he infiltrated the separation fence in the northern Gaza Strip.

His origins go back to Ethiopia and he is from the Falasha sect, which is attached to the Jews and whose Judaism is not recognized by some influential rabbis in the racist Israeli society.

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