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Family Rejects Israeli Hostage Tape as Forgery

Jerusalem officials on Monday dismissed as a “cheap stunt” Sunday night’s Al Jazeera expose in which an alleged recording of an Israeli citizen held captive by Hamas in Gaza was played for the first time. “Hamas is pulling a transparent and cheap manipulation here,” Yaron Blum, Israel’s chief hostage negotiator said. “Israel is well aware of the situation” of the prisoners in Gaza. The mother of hostage Avera Mengistu, who is supposedly heard on the tape pleading for the Israeli government to intervene and save his life, on Monday said she was certain the recording was a forgery, adding “that’s not my son’s voice.” During the hour-long feature, Al Jazeera also showed never-before-seen video recordings of an imprisoned Gilad Schalit, the former Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas in 2007 and released in a major 2011 swap deal which included over 1,000 Hamas militants. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is designated a terror group by Israel, the United States and the European Union, currently holds two Israeli civilians, Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, and the remains of two soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.