Avera Mengistu
Avera MengistuCourtesy of the family

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas met on Wednesday in his office in Ramallah with family members of Israeli citizen Avera Mengistu, who is missing in Gaza and believed to be held by Hamas.

Kan 11 News reported that the meeting was attended by Mengistu’s father and brother, as well as by former MK Shlomo Molla and Kes Avihu Azaria, a prominent spiritual leader in the Ethiopian community.

Palestinian Arab sources quoted in the report said that Abbas told the family that he would do everything in his power to bring about Avera’s release.

Mengistu, who is mentally unstable, crossed the border into Gaza in late 2014 and has not been heard from since. He is believed to be held by Hamas, which has acknowledged that Mengistu was in Gaza but stopped short of confirming it is holding him.

"The PA chairman expressed sympathy with the family's pain, as well as with the pain of the families of Palestinian prisoners and missing persons," the PA sources said, according to Kan 11 News.

Avera’s brother, Ilan Mengistu, who attended the meeting, said in an interview on Reshet Bet radio on Wednesday night that the meeting was very warm.

"[Abbas] showed a lot of empathy. He emphasized that it is unacceptable that a person crossing a border is held in this way. He understands the pain of the family," he added.

The Israeli side reported that the participants asked the PA chairman for assistance in securing Mengistu's release.