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In September 2014, an Ethiopian-born Jewish man called Avera Mengistu wandered across the border fence into Gaza and into the deadly clutches of Hamas. From a desperately impoverished background, Mengistu had long-term mental health problems, including schizophrenia and depression.
Since then, attempts by Mengistu's family; foreign governments and the Red Cross to have access to him have all been unsuccessful. It is thought that Hamas intends to release Mengistu only if Israel agrees to exchange imprisoned terrorists for him.
In April 2015, a second Israeli made the same fateful journey. On this occasion, it was a Bedouin called Hisham al-Sayed, once again a man with mental health problems and from a marginalised community. Almost four years ago, Human Rights Watch investigated the cases of both men and confirmed that, contrary to Hamas' claims, both men were civilians, unconnected to the Israeli military or government at the time they went missing.
Today, a Member of the Knesset, Ayelet Shaked, described it as "a shame and a disgrace" that Israel has agreed to the supply of Covid-19 vaccines to Gaza, without also insisting on the release of the two prisoners, as well as the bodies of Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul who were kidnapped and murdered by terrorists during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.