Hamas on Monday released an undated and unverified video purportedly of Israeli captive Avera Mengistu, who crossed into the Gaza Strip on his own accord in 2014.
“I am the prisoner Avera Mengistu. How long will I remain a captive here, I and my comrades, after the long and painful years?” says the individual in the video.
“Where are the State and the People of Israel regarding our fate?” he adds.
Mengistu’s brother Ilan Mengistu said in a subsequent interview with Channel 12 that he was not 100% certain that the man in the video was Avera.
“The State of Israel is investing all of its efforts and resources in bringing home its captive and missing sons,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office in response to the video’s release.
The statement cited anonymous Israeli officials as denouncing Hamas for “being busy with arrogant videos instead of helping the residents of the Gaza Strip.”
The Palestinian terrorist group also included a message in the short clip to outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi and to Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, who assumed the post on Monday.
The video begins with a statement “emphasizing the failure of the outgoing IDF chief of staff Kohavi and his lies to his people and his government about imaginary and delusionary achievements.
“The incoming IDF chief of staff Halevi must prepare himself to carry the burden of this failure and its consequences,” the message continued.
Hamas is also holding Hisham al-Sayed, as well as the bodies of two IDF soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in action during “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014.
Both Mengistu and al-Sayed suffer from mental illness.
In July, Sha’aban al-Said called on the United Nations Security Council to rescue his son, who in 2015 also crossed into Gaza of his own volition.
“I am pleading with you to get involved and exert effort and place pressure on Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to free my son as soon as possible, and not to use him as a card against Israel,” al-Said said in a video message played by Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan.
Addressing the 15-member council after playing the brief message, Erdan said, “Here is a father of a son with special needs that is begging this council—begging you—to take action. Hamas is using his boy as a sick bargaining chip and the world remains silent. I hope we all internalize his words.”
Hamas claimed in June that the health of Hisham al-Sayed had deteriorated and released footage of him hooked up to a respirator.
Last month, Pope Francis met with the families of the Israeli captives and called for their swift return.
“It is so difficult to comfort a mother’s tears,” said the pope.
The families of Goldin and Shaul have led a campaign to bring their sons’ bodies home. In August, the Goldin family initiated a march to the Gaza border, calling on the Israeli government to secure the release of their sons’ bodies along with Mengistu and al-Sayed.