Ahead of Rosh Hashana, Greenblatt prays for release of Israeli captives

Ahead of Rosh Hashana, US Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt said he would pray for the return of Israeli captives held by Hamas and urged others to do so as well.

By: World Israel News Staff

For the first time in four years, the families of civilians Ethiopian-Israeli Avera Mangistu and Bedouin-Israeli Hisham Alsayed have received new hope after the IDF confirmed they are both believed to be alive and held by Hamas in Gaza.

“This Rosh Hashana I will pray for the Goldin and Shaul families that Hamas will return Hadar and Oron to them. I will pray for the Mengistu and al-Sayed families, that Hamas will return Avera and Hisham to them. Please pray with me,” Greenblatt tweeted on Friday in advance of the holiday.

Unlike Goldin and Shaul, two IDF soldiers killed in battle in Israel’s war with Hamas in 2014 and whose bodies the terror group has refused to return, the disappearance of Alsayed and Mangistu had nothing to do with Operation Protective Edge.

Alsayed and Mangistu both have long histories of severe mental illness and have spent extended periods hospitalized. They both accidentally crossed the border from Israel to Gaza and disappeared.

New campaign: #SpecialNeedsCaptives

In light of the IDF announcement, the families issued a call on Thursday at a press conference in Jerusalem for their release.

They unveiled a new campaign, #SpecialNeedsCaptives, which highlights the fact that these men have a psychological disability, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Mengistu’s family, Ethiopian-Israelis, brother Ilan, who spoke at the event, noted that his brother was being held just two hours from his home.

“We all know that within two hours Avera and Hisham could be back in their homes with their families and to have the medical care that they need and deserve,” said Mengistu’s brother Ilan. “In two hours, the suffering of four years can come to an end.”