Israel has been called upon by the family of an Israeli man held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip to seek his release, local media have reported. The move follows the broadcast of a video by the resistance movement's military wing in which Avera Mengistu, wearing a button-down shirt, sends a short message to the Israeli government.
"I am the captive Avera Mengistu. How long will I be here in captivity, me and my friends?" he asked in the video. "After many years of pain, where are the country and the people of Israel?"
The Israeli Prime Minister's Office issued a brief statement commenting on the footage, but called its authenticity into doubt. "The State of Israel invests all its resources and efforts to return its captive and missing sons home, to the State of Israel."
Yallo Mengistu, the captive's brother, told Channel 12: "I am excited and scared at the same time. He looks like Avera, but on the other hand, it's not 100 per cent Avera."
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However, their mother said that she believes that the video shows her son. "His forehead, his face, it's him," insisted Agurnesh Mengistu. "He's a little fatter, but he still looks like himself."
According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the family said: "This video is new proof that he is still alive. The state must move quickly to return him home. He is in good health and being cared for. There is no reason to keep him one more day in prison."
Hamas military wing Al-Qassem Brigades says that it is holding four Israeli soldiers as captives in the Gaza Strip, including two soldiers captured during the 51-day Israeli military offensive against the people of Gaza in 2014.