Avraham Mengistu's family
Avraham Mengistu's familyFlash 90

Israel tried to retrieve Avraham Mengistu, the Israeli who entered Gaza and is being held by Hamas. A report on Channel Two Monday said that IDF and security forces tried to bring Mengistu back to Israel a short time after he entered Gaza, but were tricked by Hamas into abandoning him.

According to the report, talks on returning Mengistu to Israel took place a few weeks after he entered Gaza. According to Israeli officials, Mengistu crossed the fence into Gaza last September due to mental illness and that the move was not in any way a deliberate security risk. According to reports, the IDF spotted him and attempted to stop him, but he ran across before he could be apprehended; Hamas arrested him upon his arrival in Gaza.

Once he was in Gaza, Israel demanded that Hamas return him for humanitarian reasons. Not a soldier or a security figure, Mengistu, son of an Ethiopian immigrant family, was said to be suffering from a mental health issue.

Hamas agreed, saying that they would bring the “Ethiopian” to one of the border crossings into Israel. IDF soldiers arrived at the site at the appointed time, and waited – but instead of Mengistu, the Hamas terrorists sent them an Eritrean migrant worker who had slipped into Gaza. The soldiers, realizing they had been had, refused to accept him.

Speaking Monday, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon reiterated that there were no talks going on currently for the release of Mengistu. Hamas has not officially confirmed that it is holding him, or a Bedouin Arab whose name has not yet been released for publication.