Israeli-born Palestinian Crosses Border Into Gaza, Israeli Army Says

Senior Israeli officer says Israeli-born man has a Gazan father and has been dividing his time between Israel and Gaza over the past years

The border with the Gaza Strip, March 2, 2017.
Ilan Assayag

A 20-year-old man crossed the border into Gaza on Friday. According to the Israeli army, the man was born in Israel to a Gazan father and an Israeli mother.

The family has been living in Gaza and he has divided his time between Israel and the Strip over past years as part of a family reunification program which allows Palestinians to live with their immediate relatives in Israel.

The military first received a warning at 12:20 P.M. of activity at the border fence, close to the Erez crossing. However, once forces arrived to the location the man was already in Gazan territory.

The army confirmed that the man was picked up by Hamas security forces. According to the officer, no one from Hamas had been waiting in expectation of his arrival.

"The IDF has no way of preventing someone who has decided to cross into Gaza from doing so," a senior officer said.

The Shin Bet security service have opened an investigation into the matter, and are expected to question the man's family in the coming hours.

Three Israelis are currently missing in Gaza after jumping the border. One of them, Abera Mengistu, a resident of Ashekon, crossed the border in September 2014. Shortly after, the defense establishment received reports that Mengistu was held by Hamas, but his fate since then is unknown. 

Another Israeli, Hisham al-Sayed, a Bedouin from the Negev, cross the border in 2015. According to Sayed's father, the mentally ill man had jumped the fence twice in the past and was returned to Israel.

In July 2016, another man, Juma Ibrahim Abu Ganima, a Bedouin from an unrecognized village in the south, was seen crossing the border. His family said he suffers from mental issues as well. This is a developing story.