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.


Al-Qaeda leader killed in operation in Sabha: Libyan army

Updated 11 min 43 sec ago
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Al-Qaeda leader killed in operation in Sabha: Libyan army

LONDON: An Al-Qaeda leader known as “Abu Talha Al-Libi” has been killed in an operation near Sabha, southern Libya, the Libyan National Army said Friday. 

“Abu Talha Al-Libi” was killed on Friday morning after a raid on a house he was sharing with other armed men in an area called Al-Qarda Al-Shati, close to Sabha in southern Libya. 

Earlier on Wednesday, the forces of Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar announced a military operation to "purge" extremists and criminal gangs from the south of the conflict-hit nation.
A spokesman for the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) said its fighters had advanced in "several regions in the south" from an airbase some 650 kilometres (400 miles) from the capital Tripoli.
The aim is to "assure security for inhabitants in the south-west from terrorists, be they the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda, as well as criminal gangs," spokesman Ahmed Al-Mesmari said.
The LNA said it was also looking to secure petroleum facilities and tackle flows of clandestine migrants heading northwards to the Mediterranean coast.
It called on armed groups in the target area, mainly made up of tribal fighters, to withdraw from military and civilian installations.
Military sources told AFP that numerous LNA units had taken up positions in recent days around the region's main city of Sabha.
Libya has been torn between rival administrations and a myriad of militias since the NATO-backed overthrow and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.
Haftar supports an administration in the east of the country that is opposed to the internationally backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli.
The chaos has seen extremists and people traffickers gain a foothold in the south of the country.
Daesh has carried out repeated attacks across the country, targeting both Haftar's forces and the rival Tripoli-based authorities.