The Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization, denied receiving any request from Israel through intermediaries regarding Avera Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian origin who is being held in Gaza.
A member of the Al-Qassam Brigades told a Russian news agency on Saturday that Mengistu was not included in the negotiations on an exchange deal with Israel.
Mengistu, who is suffering from a mental illness, accidentally crossed the border fence and entered Gaza on September 7, 2014, and is believed to be held by Hamas.
Hamas has conditioned providing any information about the Israeli soldiers it is holding (Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin) and other missing Israeli citizens on the release of terrorists who were freed as part the Shalit deal and were later re-arrested by Israel after it was discovered they had resumed terrorist activities.
The Hamas leadership is trying to pressure the Israeli government on an exchange deal by publishing propaganda targeting the families of the missing Israelis. In the present case, it appears as though Hamas' goal is to try to rekindle the protest by Ethiopian Israelis.