Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has confirmed that an Israeli held captive in Gaza is alive, a day after Hamas released a rare video of him.
“Yesterday we received additional confirmation of what we have known all along — that Avera (Mengistu) is alive,” Netanyahu said in a statement after a meeting with Ronen Bar, the Chief of the Shin Bet internal security agency on Tuesday.
In a rare video released on Monday by Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian group that runs the Gaza Strip, Mengistu is seen seated against a white background, appealing for Israel’s help to free him, Xinhua news agency reported.
Mengistu has been held in the Gaza Strip since he crossed into the Palestinian enclave in 2014. His family said in the past that the man, now 36, is suffering from mental health problems.
Mengistu “is a young man, not in the best of health, and Hamas is entirely responsible for his fate,” the Israeli Prime Minister said.
Israel has “not ceased its efforts to bring back Avera Mengistu and our other captives and missing persons,” he added.
Hamas is reportedly seeking a prisoner swap deal in which Palestinian prisoners would be released in exchange for Mengistu’s freedom.