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Family of Israeli held captive in Gaza Strip meets Trump envoy at White House

Trump peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, in this uncredited picture posted on his official Twitter account, meets with the families of Israeli captives in Gaza, Avera Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayeed. July 10 2017.
Twitter account of Jason Greenblatt, photographer not credited.
Avera has been held by Hamas in Gaza for over 1,000 days since he disappeared in September 2014.

The family of Avera Mengistu, an Israeli civilian held captive by the Hamas Islamist group in the Gaza Strip, met with US special envoy to the Middle East at the White House on Wednesday to discuss efforts for releasing their son.

“Today I welcomed the family of Avera Mengistu to the White House,” Greenblatt tweeted along with a picture of a young Avera.

“Avera has been held by Hamas in Gaza for over 1,000 days since he disappeared in September, 2014. It is outrageous that Hamas will not let him return home or communicate with his family,” Greenblatt continued.


The special envoy, who has been appointed by Trump with the task of reviving moribund peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, also tweeted a prayer in both Hebrew and English in the hope of giving strength to Mengistu and return him safely to his family.

Hamas is believed to be holding captive at least two Israelis, Avraham (Avera) Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayeed, who entered Hamas-controlled Gaza during periods of poor mental health in 2014 and 2015 respectively. A third Israeli, Jumma Abu Ghanima, has not been heard from since he was spotted entering the blockaded enclave in July 2016.

The Islamist group is also holding the bodies of two Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed during the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

Having had a difficult time raising awareness for Avera’s captivity, arriving in the US a week ago, Avera’s brother Ilan and mother Agurnesh are hoping to urge politicians to push for his release.

Ilan Mengistu told the Times of Israel that the difficulty in pushing it up the political agenda is down to an apathetic stance taken by Israel, possibly pertaining to their Ethiopian heritage and low socioeconomic status.

Meetings will take place with a number of Washington officials and UN representatives in New York. According to Jerusalem Online, the family is also expected to attend the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual assembly to involve the diaspora in their fight for their sons return.

Until now leaks from furtive talks -- reportedly conducted via Egypt -- suggested that Hamas was demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisoners, even as a precondition for revealing information about the welfare of the captives.

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