All Israel
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The no good, evil, cynical, illegal and immoral ploy of Hamas

An undated video released by Hamas on Jan. 16, 2023, supposedly of Israeli hostage Avera Mengistu. (Photo: Screenshot)

Hamas is a Palestinian Arab Islamic terror organization with a goal to destroy Israel using threats, fear, violence and murder as its currency.

The terrorist organization Hamas took control of Gaza following a violent and bloody coup in 2007, killing many top Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leaders, and expelling the rest. Since then, Hamas has used Gaza as a base from which to threaten Israel, launch tens of thousands of rockets at Israeli cities, and take as many Israelis hostage as possible, dead and alive.

One of the hostages Hamas has held since 2014 is Avraham "Avera" Mengistu. Mengistu is a 36-year-old Ethiopian Israeli who crossed into Gaza on Sept. 7, 2014. Why any Israeli (or anyone, for that matter) would purposefully cross into Gaza is a mystery, but his family claims he is mentally unstable, which would certainly answer at least part of that question. Mengistu was subsequently captured, interrogated and detained by Hamas, and has been considered missing ever since.

This week, in a show of brazen cynicism and lack of any human decency, Hamas released a video – supposedly of Mengistu – which has been under scrutiny by Israel’s security agency, Shin Bet, Israeli media and even his own family. It’s not clear if the video is actually of Mengistu, nor can the date of of filming be confirmed. If the video is authentic and was filmed recently, it would be the first sign in years that the man is still alive.

Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ran Kochav said the authenticity of the video is thought to be reasonably reliable.

"The level of reliability of the video has been examined by the security establishment over the last few hours," Kochav said, before adding that the IDF "will not conduct talks on the matter of the captured and missing citizens in the media. I will not refer specifically to the reliability and authenticity of the video. We have an estimate, and – let's put it this way – we estimate that the level of reliability is reasonable."

In response to the video, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel has known Mengistu is alive for some time which, if true, means that the video reveals nothing new.

Despite assessments from the IDF and Shin Bet, one of Mengistu’s brothers said that he and his family were not sure it was him. Of course the family hopes it is their loved one and that, if recorded recently, it is an encouraging sign that he is alive and doing reasonably well. However, it’s been eight years since his family has seen him and, therefore, impossible to know for sure.

Causing further doubt of the video’s timeliness, Hamas went to no lengths to prove it. For example, they could have made the hostage refer to a current event or even hold up a copy of a current newspaper.

All of this has underscored Hamas to be a cynical, immoral and inhumane terror group, with no regard for human suffering – not of Israelis and nor of Palestinian Arabs in Gaza. Hamas has been holding hostages for years, including the remains of two soldiers killed in combat, in gross violation of international law.

Ever since Mengistu was captured, Hamas has attempted to extort concessions from Israel for his return, as well as an Arab Israeli citizen by the name of Hisham al-Sayed – also being held hostage by the terror group – along with the remains of two Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.

The Hamas model is a “successful” negotiation, such as the 2011 deal for the return of kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. In June 2006, Shalit was taken captive and held hostage by Hamas for more than five years. Eventually Israel agreed to release 1,027 Palestinian Arab terrorists in exchange for the one soldier – a deal that was celebrated by many Israelis who believed the government when it told its citizens that Israel would always strive to return missing and kidnapped soldiers. However, the deal was also widely criticized by many who believed that the exchange set a bad precedent when the Israeli government agreed to release terrorists from Israeli prisons.

Hamas is clearly trying to use the seating of a new government this month, in addition to the induction of a new IDF chief last week, as a way to play with the emotions of the Israeli public and, perhaps, use it against the Israeli government to leverage similar concessions.  

Of course, if the video is real and Mengistu is alive, that’s important. However, it’s not just the deliberate act of taking citizens hostage and holding them as bargaining chips that is immoral, not to mention illegal. The whole idea of releasing such an overtly cryptic video to appeal to emotions is no less evil. 

The Hamas hostage-taking tactic is not new.

Not only do they happily hold Israeli citizens hostage, but they hold millions of Gazans hostage as well.

The vast majority of people cannot leave Gaza without going through a Hamas checkpoint and getting “approval” to do so, not even for medical care in Israel. Hamas uses Gazan citizens for its terror operations – as human shields, for building infrastructure, hiding weapons, sheltering terror leaders, firing rockets – all from the backyards or under the feet of the average Palestinian Arab living in the Gaza Strip.

Schools, hospitals and mosques are the preferred real estate behind which Hamas openly hides its operations. While they are well aware that Israel will not strike at the heart of civilian areas and risk the massive collateral damage and deaths, the terror group continues to blame Israel for doing exactly that.

The United Nations, Red Cross and other international humanitarian and diplomatic groups have been impotent by not caring about the Hamas organization illegally holding Israeli hostages. Nor have they shown concern for the well-being of Palestinian Arabs in Gaza. That is, of course, unless Israel can be blamed for their suffering.

The time has come to hold Hamas accountable, cease the weapons and funding from Iran and other Arab Gulf states. It is time to free Gaza from the clutches of the Hamas terrorists who hold millions of innocent Arab citizens hostage, along with innocent Israelis like Avera Mengistu.

ALL ISRAEL NEWS is committed to fair and balanced coverage and analysis, and honored to publish a wide-range of opinions. That said, views expressed by guest columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of our management or staff.

Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has become a respected bridge between Jews and Christians and serves as president of the Genesis 123 Foundation. He writes regularly on major Christian websites about Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He is host of the popular Inspiration from Zion podcast. He can be reached at firstpersonisrael@gmail.com.

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