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'That's not his voice', mother of Israel prisoner of war held in Gaza say after recording released

Ilan Mengistu (L), brother of Avera Mengistu (C), one of two Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza since 2014 in Jerusalem on September 6, 2018 [THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images]
Ilan Mengistu (L), brother of Avera Mengistu (C), one of two Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza since 2014 in Jerusalem on September 6, 2018 [THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images]

An audio claimed to be of an Israeli captive in the Gaza Strip released by Al Jazeera, has been rejected by the mother who says the voice was definitely not that of her son.

Speaking in broken Hebrew, the man, claimed to be an Ethiopian-Israeli known as Avera Mengistu, in the recording says he is an Israeli soldier held by Hamas.

"I wonder and hope if Israel still exists," the voice on the recording says.

"If it does, I wonder if its leaders are thinking of Israeli soldiers in captivity, worrying about them and working for their release. I am dying every day. I feel the hope to be near my family beating in my heart. Please help me," the voice says.

The voice recording was published as part of Al Jazeera's investigative reporting series, Tip of the Iceberg, which dealt with the Israeli citizens who have been held as prisoners of war by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The authenticity of the clip has not been established, with the Israeli military saying it was investigating.

Mengistu's mother, Agernesh Mengistu, responded to the news of the recording by saying she is certain it is not her son speaking.

"I've heard the recording just like everyone else, and I can say with certainty that it is not my son, that it is not his voice," she said. "I am waiting for my son and hope to see him soon, just as I have been promised all along."

READ: Hamas wants Israel to pledge to respect Shalit prisoner swap

Hamas has said it holds two Israeli soldiers – Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul – who were captured during the 2014 war, and two former soldiers – Hisham Al-Sayed and Avera Mengistu – who entered Gaza under unclear conditions, according to reports.

According to Al Jazeera, Marwan Issa, deputy commander of the al-Qassam Brigades, is working on a possible prisoner swap.

"This is a top priority of Hamas," Issa said. "We are reminding our prisoners held in Israeli jails that we will work towards their release." He added that the Israelis held in Gaza are being protected by their captors.

The chances of a prisoner exchange deal being completed between Israel and Hamas have increased over the past few days, a senior Israeli official said, explaining that Tel Aviv is now waiting for Egyptian mediators to convey Hamas' offer to conclude the deal.

Israel is currently detaining more than 4,500 Palestinians, including hundreds of minors.

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