Cleared for publication: Two Israelis held captive in Gaza Strip; Mixed reports on whether Hamas is holding the Israeli citizens; Hamas reports European intermediary sent message from Israel requesting the return of the bodies of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin; Netanyahu calls on international community to “come out with a clear call to release the civilians”
Israeli Defense officials have confirmed that two Israelis are being held captive in the Gaza Strip. The reports were only cleared for publication on Thursday, all information kept from the Israeli public due to a gag order. Limited information has been released so far with various reports from Hamas, Israel and international media.
According to initial reports in Israel, one of the Israelis, Avraham Mangisto, entered the Gaza Strip about ten months after leaving his home on September 8th. Mangisto is reportedly mentally ill.
A senior Palestinian official from the Gaza Strip told Israeli media that Mangisto was held by Hamas. He claims that when they realized he was not a soldier, they released him. However, Israel’s Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories stated following the release of the report to Israeli press that Israeli intelligence believes Mangisto to be held by Hamas.
The second man was not named to the public, nor any information given about his case. The IDF stated that the man is “young man from a minority group” with reports claiming he is an Israeli Arab.
According to Mangisto’s faimily who were interviewed by Israel’s Channel 10 News, “According to Hamas, they’re not holding him and this has been checked by the government, the Hamas police and the al-Qassam Brigade.”
The reports come after Hamas stated Wednesday that Israel has again requested the return of the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, two IDF soldiers who were killed in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. According to Hamas Chief, Khaled Mashaal, Israel sent a message to the terrorist organization through a European intermediary. He stated on Wednesday that Hamas “won’t let Israeli prisoners go before the release of Palestinian prisoners.”
On Thursday evening, Prime Minister addressed the two Israelis held captive in Gaza, stating, “We’re working to return the two Israelis who crossed the border fence into Gaza. We view Hamas as responsible for their wellbeing. I appointed a representative to coordinate all of the activity on the issue on my behalf and the communication with the families. I expect the international community, which has expressed its concern of the humanitarian situation in Gaza, to come out with a clear call to release the civilians and ensure their return.”