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.


Kushner: Trump wants fair deal for Palestinians

Updated 25 June 2019
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Kushner: Trump wants fair deal for Palestinians

  • Fighting new economic plan ‘a strategic mistake,’ White House adviser says
  • Says plan would double Palestinian GDP in 10 years, create over a million jobs

MANAMA, Bahrain: Donald Trump wants a fair deal for Palestinians, the US president’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said on the eve of the launch in Bahrain of the White House’s $50 billion “peace for prosperity” plan.

The Palestinians are missing an opportunity to participate in the Middle East peace process by boycotting the Bahrain conference, Kushner said. “This is a strong package that has been put together. Fighting it instead of embracing it, I think, is a strategic mistake.”

The plan proposes a global investment fund for Palestine and neighboring Arab states, and a $5 billion transport corridor between the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian leaders have rejected it, but Kushner said their criticism was “more emotional than specific.”

“Nobody has refuted our core premise that this would do a lot to stimulate the economy,” he said. “The Palestinian people have been trapped in a situation for a long time and we wanted to show them, and their leadership, that there is a pathway forward that could be quite exciting.”

The Palestinian people have been trapped in a situation for a long time and we wanted to show them, and their leadership, that there is a pathway forward that could be quite exciting.

Jared Kushner, US president’s adviser

Kushner said Trump decisions such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv were evidence that the president kept his promises.

“The Palestinians might not have liked his Jerusalem decision, but he made a promise and he did it,” he said. What the president wanted now was “to give the Palestinian people a fair solution.”

Kushner said the plan would double the GDP in 10 years, create over a million jobs, reduce poverty by 50 percent and bring unemployment to below 10 percent.

“We believe this doable,” he said. “It’s hard, but if there’s a peace agreement and we set up the right structure, we think it could really lead to improving people’s lives in a substantial way.

“I think there is a lot of enthusiasm in the West Bank and Gaza to see if we can find a political solution so that this can be implemented.”

The political element of the White House plan has been delayed by uncertainty in Israel, where there will be elections this year after an earlier vote failed to produce a stable coalition, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may also face a criminal trial for corruption.