Family of Israeli Missing in Gaza Comes Out Against Deal With Turkey

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Family and friends of Avera Mengistu protesting outside Hadarim Prison on Monday.Credit: Moti Milrod

The family of Avera Mengistu, a missing Israeli who is believed to be in the Gaza Strip, said on Tuesday that it is opposed to a reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey, if it doesn't include information about his whereabouts.

Mengistu, from Ashkelon, is believed to have crossed the border into Gaza in September 2014.

Turkish officials said this week that a draft agreement between the two countries is expected to be concluded next week. Relations have been in crisis ever since nine Turkish civilians were killed by Israeli naval commandos on a Turkish flotilla to Gaza in May 2010.

Mengistu's brother Ilan told Haaretz that the family is angered by the fact that the pending agreements includes a clause about humanitarian assistance to Gaza, but "doesn't mention the humanitarian need of my brother."

He added that the issue had been raised with Lior Lotan, the prime minister's coordinator for prisoners and missing civilians.

Also missing and believed to be in Gaza is Hisham al-Sayeed, from the Negev Bedouin town of Hura, who has reportedly been held in Gaza for over a year.

Hamas is believed to be holding both missing civilians, as well as the bodies of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaaul, both of whom went missing during the 2014 war in Gaza.

Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to include Mengistu in the reconciliation deal with Turkey. "In any agreement with Turkey, the prime minister and [Israeli] negotators must include, in the humanitarian clauses, clear reciprocal measures, so that real action is taken to bring [Mengistu] back to his family, along with steps to retrieve the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.

"Anything else would be a tragic and missed opportunity," Herzog added.

Turkish and Israeli officials are expected to meet on Sunday to complete the draft agreement between the two countries.

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