Families of Israelis missing in Gaza demand their return

Relatives of Hisham Al-Sayed (C-R) and Avera Mengistu (C-L), two Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza since 2014, pose for a picture next to a painted poster depicting them after a press conference organised by the captives' families calling for their release, in Jerusalem on September 6, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2018
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Families of Israelis missing in Gaza demand their return

  • Mengistu was filmed by an Israeli security camera climbing the frontier fence with the Gaza Strip in September 2014

JERUSALEM: The families of two Israelis believed to be held captive in Gaza by its Hamas rulers demanded Thursday that the Islamist movement return their loved ones.
Ethiopian-born Avera Mengistu was filmed by an Israeli security camera climbing the frontier fence with the Gaza Strip in September 2014.
Human Rights Watch said it was told by an Israeli official that Hisham Al-Sayed, a Muslim Bedouin, was picked up by monitoring equipment as he crossed the border into Gaza in April 2015.
Both are said to be mentally unstable.
“Hisham’s problem is he is sick psychologically,” his father Shaaban Al-Sayed told a press conference on Thursday.
“We want to send a message to the Palestinian people in Gaza to speak to Hamas, put pressure on Hamas,” to free him, he said in Arabic.
Ilan Mengistu appealed to Hamas’ Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar to “act like a human being, to consider my brother Avera’s mental condition, to consider the family’s suffering, and to release Avera and Hisham today.”
He said that his brother was being held as a bargaining chip to try and win the release of Hamas prisoners held by Israel.
“A man with special needs is being held hostage,” Mengistu said in Hebrew. “How cruel.”
Israel does not allow its citizens to enter Gaza, partly over fears that they may be used as leverage to demand concessions.
Two Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, are believed to have been killed in the 2014 war in Gaza and their remains held by Hamas.
The movement has suggested it is willing to trade the bodies in a deal similar to the 2011 swap that saw Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit freed in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
Around 6,500 Palestinians are currently in Israeli jails, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club.


Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

Updated 21 November 2018
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Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

  • A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000
  • To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor

CAIRO: In an attempt to further boost its booming real estate sector and attract foreign investment, Egypt will grant residency permits to foreigners who invest at least $100,000 in the country’s property market.
The growth rate of Egypt’s property market stands at 133 percent in 2018. This has been fueled by strong demand for housing, along with the sporadic launch of residential construction projects.
The minimum investment required to obtain a residency permit is $100,000. A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000. The offer also applies to properties that are still under construction.
Khaled Abbas, the deputy minister of housing, said the procedures for the scheme are being set up in consultation with the Passport, Immigration and Nationality Administration.
To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor, and then signed by an authorized body, such the Urban Communities Authority, the Tourism Development Authority or the governorate in which the property is located. Bank statements must also be provided confirming that the money has been transferred from overseas. The passport office will then approve the period of residence.
Members of the House of Representatives welcomed the announcement as a positive move for Egypt and an incentive for foreign investment, which it is hoped will create jobs and economic opportunities.
Whether the public will be so keen remains to be seen.
“This might be a bit problematic,” said Aly Salem, a resident of Cairo. “The housing demand in Egypt is already high, with the surging youth population and more and more people looking to get married each year. Where will they stay, if foreigners start swooping in and acquiring both residency and a huge housing unit with just $100,000?”
Offering further details, Gen. Kamel Amer, the head of the Parliament’s Defense and National Security Committee, said foreigners will not have any political rights for the first five years of residency and they will not be eligible to vote for 10 years. He also said spouses and children of investors will not be granted residency unless they live in Egypt.
Spain and Portugal have implemented similar programs in an attempt to boost their property markets. Previously, a foreigner had to live in Egypt for 10 consecutive years to be eligible for naturalization.
The new residency law is part of the efforts to repair the damage to Egypt’s economy caused by severe austerity measures imposed after the $12 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.
The cost and size of properties in Egypt, which are often large and lavish apartments, compare favorably to those in many other countries. Despite this, few Egyptians can afford to pay for a house upfront, but some private property developers are offering 10-year, interest-free installment plans.