Hamas Claims Health of Israeli Captive Has ‘Deteriorated’
Shabaan al-Sayed and Ayeli Mengistu, fathers of Hisham al-Sayed and Avera Mengistu, two Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza since 2015 and 2014, respectively, pose next to a poster depicting their sons, Jerusalem, Sept. 6, 2018. (Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images)

Hamas Claims Health of Israeli Captive Has ‘Deteriorated’

Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, announced on Monday night that “the health of one of its Israeli prisoners has deteriorated.” Hamas has held two Israelis, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, for several years. The terror group did not specify which of the two living Israelis it holds is in poor health.

Both Mengistu and al-Sayed, who are affected with mental illness, crossed voluntarily into Gaza in 2014 and 2015 respectively and have been held by Hamas since. Israel has repeatedly attempted to reach agreement with Hamas on a prisoner exchange that would include the four Israelis.

The Prime Minister’s Office responded to Hamas’ announcement in a statement late on Monday night.

“Hamas has proven yet again that it is a cynical and criminal terrorist organization, which holds mentally ill civilians in violation of all international conventions and laws, as well as the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers. Hamas is responsible for the state of the captured civilians,” the statement said. “The State of Israel will continue its efforts, mediated by Egypt, to bring home the captives and the missing, with responsibility and determination.”

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