Netanyahu Asks Ethiopia to Help Free Israelis Held in Gaza

Human Rights Watch

The Times of Israel reports: ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday met with his Ethiopian counterpart in Addis Ababa and asked him for assistance in securing the release of Avraham Mengistu, an Ethiopian Israeli held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Mengistu, who entered the Gaza Strip in September 2014, is one of two Israelis held captive by Hamas, which also holds the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. Mengistu’s family and the families of the two soldiers have protested outside Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence demanding action to ensure Avraham’s release and the return of the soldier’s bodies.

“We always raise the issue of our citizens at various opportunities, including here, of course,” Netanyahu told reporters after meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

The prime minister has come under fire in recent weeks for not securing Turkish assistance to pressure Hamas to release Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, the second Israeli held in Gaza; and the bodies of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul. Israel signed a reconciliation deal with Turkey that dealt with aspects of its policy on Gaza but did not touch on the issue of the Israelis held there.

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