‘I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy’ – elderly Israeli kidnapped in Ethiopia

Captors allow 79-year-old man to send voice message pleading for help to his family; kidnappers reportedly demanding hundreds of thousands of shekels in ransom.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israeli officials are working with Interpol and the Ethiopian government for the safe return of an Israeli man kidnapped near the northern city of Gondar, the Foreign Ministry said in a media statement on Tuesday.

According to reports, the man is a 79-year-old immigrant to Israel of Ethiopian origin who traveled to the country in order to undergo a medical procedure.

He was reportedly kidnapped by a local criminal gang while on a trip to a nature site following his medical treatment, Mako reported.

“Help me. I am in the middle of the jungle,” the man said in a voice message sent to his family after the abduction, which was heard by Hebrew-language media.

“It’s pouring rain. Help me. I should have come back Sunday. I will probably be stuck here. Help me, my children. This trouble I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemies. Help me.”

The man’s captors are reportedly seeking a ransom of hundreds of thousands of shekels for his safe release.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said that money, not terror, appeared to be the motivation for the kidnapping.

“The department for Israelis in distress overseas is in contact with the family in Israel and is working with Interpol on the matter,” the Ministry said. “The Israeli consul in Ethiopia is in contact with local security officials to secure the release of the Israeli as soon as possible, safe and sound.”

About 165,000 citizens of Ethiopian descent live in Israel, with some 67,800 having been born in the Jewish State.

Israel and Ethiopia share close diplomatic and economic ties, with frequent direct flights between the two countries and mutual embassies.