New campaign calls for release of Avraham Mengistu

Facebook campaign calls on Israelis to leave an empty chair at the Seder table for Ethiopian who is missing in Gaza.

Benny Tocker,

Avraham Mengistu
Avraham Mengistu
Courtesy of the family

A new campaign on Facebook is calling for the return of Avraham (Avera) Mengistu, who is missing in Gaza and believed to be held by Hamas.

The organizer of the campaign, Nir Braudo, told Arutz Sheva on Wednesday that the silence surrounding Mengistu is surprising, as he put it.

“I'm sure many have forgotten his name. Nobody talks about him. On Friday night, the people of Israel will sit down at the Seder table and celebrate the holiday of freedom. We are commanded in every generation to see ourselves as if we left Egypt, and remember who is still captive and who is free. Unfortunately, the Mengistu family from Ashkelon has been sitting for already 590 days with an empty chair. Their son Avera Mengistu remains a prisoner of Hamas in Gaza,” Braudo said, calling on all the people of Israel to place an empty chair around the Seder table to symbolize Mengistu.

“Nobody talks about it, so at least leave an empty chair, take a photo of it and post on Facebook. We have a good relationship with the activists who are working with the family and with the Ethiopian community, there is a lot of anger and we think we need to do more for his return,” he continued.

“We think that the fact that Mengistu is not being talked about is not a security-related matter, but because of the fact that it’s easy to forget someone who belongs to a small minority. Our job is to remind everyone of Avera Mengistu, who is not here with us at this time,” said Braudo.

Mengistu, an Ethiopian Jew, was deeply depressed and suffering from mental health problems when he wandered unarmed across the border to Gaza.

Israel's Defense Ministry has determined that Mengistu was captured by Hamas after managing to cross the border, but the terrorist organization holding de facto rule over Gaza has provided no information about his whereabouts or condition.

Earlier this month, Hamas acknowledged that Mengistu was in Gaza but stopped short of confirming it was hold him, saying only Israel would have to “pay the price” to secure his release, as well as the release of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul and a Bedouin who went missing in Gaza as well.