Creating new perspectives since 2009

Israel asks Pope, Red Cross to help recover four citizens held in Gaza

January 18, 2023 at 1:22 pm

Pope Francis in Rome, Italy, on December 08, 2022 [Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency]

Israel has appealed to Pope Francis, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Secretary-General on Wednesday to help it recover four citizens held in the Gaza Strip for more than seven years, Reuters reports.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s office said he sent letters of appeal after Gaza’s ruling Palestinian group, Hamas, released a video of captive, Avera Mengistu, who walked into the enclave and whose family says he suffers from mental illness.

Another Israeli civilian is being held in Gaza after entering under similar circumstances in 2015, as are two Israeli soldiers who went missing during a war with Hamas in 2014, and were declared dead by the army.

READ: About $140,000 in fines against Palestinian child prisoners in 2022

In his letters, Cohen described Mengistu’s plight as “a gross violation of international humanitarian law, with no information on his health condition nor means of communication with family or Red Cross visits,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The release of the video on Monday appeared to be an effort by Hamas to pressure Israel into a prisoner swap. Israel has said it was exploring indirect talks with Hamas on recovering the four, without specifying what it might give in return.