Hamas releases video of captive Israeli on oxygen, offers an exchange for Palestinian prisoners
Hisham al-Sayed has been held as prisoner in Gaza since 2015; Hamas says his health is deteriorating
A Bedouin Israeli who was captured after crossing into Gaza in 2015 has been offered by Hamas as part of a prisoner exchange, the Al Mayadeen satellite channel reported.
On Tuesday, Hamas released a video of 34-year-old Hisham al-Sayed, the first image of the captive seen in seven years, that shows him lying in a bed, wearing an oxygen mask.
According to Hamas, al-Sayed’s health has been deteriorating. The terror group issued an unusual statement on Monday, stating, “There has been a medical deterioration in the condition of one of the Israeli prisoners.”
Hamas announced their willingness to release the Israeli captive in Gaza in exchange for sick Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, Al Mayadeen reported.
In recent years, Egypt has been involved in unsuccessful attempts to broker a deal between Israel and Hamas that would bring about al-Sayed’s release. The satellite report, however, claims that Egyptian negotiators have indicated that Hamas has offered a few concessions in its demands from Israel.
The report alleges that the terror group has agreed to exchange al-Sayed for sick Palestinian prisoners, instead of prisoners who had been involved in deadly terror acts against Israelis. The swap also would exclude prisoners who were arrested after being released in an earlier prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit in 2011.
In response to the short clip of al-Sayed released by Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that “spreading the clip of a sick man is despicable and an act of desperation.”
When al-Sayed crossed the Gazan border from the Negev desert on his own seven years ago, his family stated that the man suffers from mental illness.
Israeli Foreign Minister and alternate-Prime Minister Yair Lapid stated that “Hamas is responsible for the wellbeing of the civilians it is holding in violation of international law.”
Lapid called on the international community to condemn Hamas for its “inhumane conduct.”
The second Israeli prisoner being held by Hamas is Avraham “Avera” Mengistu, who also crossed into Gaza on his own in April 2014.
Mengistu was born in Ethiopia and immigrated to Israel with his family. Like al-Sayed, he suffers from psychological illness. Although Hamas has portrayed both prisoners as soldiers, neither has any connection to the Israel Defense Forces.
Al-Sayed’s family has not seen him or heard from him since his capture. His family said they were pleased to finally receive some sign of life.
“We are not involved in politics and do not want to blame politicians or say who worked harder and who did or did not call. We want to see our son come home,” al-Sayed’s father told Ynet news.
His mother, Manal, told the Israeli media that she suffers at the sight of him sick.
“I don’t feel well when my son is far away from us. I was relieved and moved to see him in the video and cried, but I saw that he is not feeling well,” she said. “I don’t know if he is receiving the treatment that he needs. I think of him every day and night, and just want him back.”
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.