Israeli officials, family, say the video shown on Al Jazeera of an “Israeli hostage” held by the terror group is fake.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Israel officials on Sunday dismissed a Hamas video that was shown on the Al Jazeera network saying Hamas had faked the attempt to show they were holding a live Israeli soldier hostage.
The Iran-backed terror group is holding two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two IDF soldiers hostage in Gaza in an attempt to trade them for over one thousand convicted terrorists being held in Israeli jails.
The government coordinator for the release of the hostages, Yaron Blum, dismissed the video as a cheap psychological trick by Hamas trying to play on Israeli public sentiment.
“Hamas is in distress after the severe blows it received in Operation Guardian of the Walls and is attempting cheap and transparent manipulation here,” Blum said. “Israel is well aware of the plight of the sons Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul … and of the two civilians Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed who crossed the border while alive.”
In the 11 days of conflict last month, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terror group lost over hundred dead, and the IDF claimed it destroyed a large part of the vast underground tunnel network the two groups had spent years building. On the Israeli side, only one IDF soldier was killed in the conflict, and Blum estimated that Hamas was under pressure to show some results to Palestinians to offset the losses.
In the recording, a voice speaking accented Hebrew claims to be an Israeli soldier being held captive by Hamas and says he wonders “if Israel still exists… I am dying every day. I feel the hope to be near my family beating in my heart. Please help me.”
Neither Mengistu nor al-Sayed, both of whom suffer mental health issues, served in the IDF, and Mengistu’s mother said the recording was definitely not her son.
“I heard the tape like everyone else, and I can say unequivocally that it is not my son, it is not his voice. I am waiting for my son and hope to meet him soon as I was promised all the time,” Agarnesh Mengistu told Kan News.
The Al Jazeera report included new video footage of former IDF hostage Gilad Shalit while he was a Hamas prisoner, showing him in captivity doing some exercises. Captured in a 2006 border attack in which two other IDF soldiers were killed, Shalit was held hostage for five years before being released in a 2011 exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in Israel jails, including many who had committed multiple murders.
Hamas bars the International Red Cross from checking on the hostages as required under international law. The Israeli blogger who goes by the code name Abu Ali Express noted that in 2009, Israel released a group of 20 Palestinian female prisoners in order to get a videotape showing that Shalit was alive.
“Mangisto’s voice tape was given to Israel free of charge. This is to put pressure on public opinion in Israel,” the blogger said. “This may indicate that Hamas thinks that the chances of a deal are greater now than in the past and therefore provided a ‘free gift’ unlike in the Shalit case.”