Around 20 family members and friends of Avraham Mengistu, an Israeli held in Gaza since last September, staged a protest on Monday morning in front of Hadarim Prison in the coastal Sharon region, in the family's first protest demand for Mengistu's release.
Mengistu entered Gaza due to mental illness, and since then apparently has been held by Hamas. The family has kept a low-profile since a gag order on the case was lifted around a month ago, relying on the state to take action, but the new protest is the first move in changing that stance and calling on the public to help them secure Mengistu's release.
The protesters in front of the jail chanted "free Avera," using a nickname for Mengistu.
They also waved signs reading "Avera's father also wants to visit his son," in a reference drawing a comparison to the Arab families visiting jailed terrorists at the prison.
Mengistu's family passed out fliers to the families of the jailed Arab terrorists who came to visit, accusing them of being involved in Mengistu's ongoing captivity.
"You can visit your sons today, but there's a family that not only cannot see him (their son), they don't even know where he is," read the fliers. "Avera is sick and needs medical treatment, tell your leaders to return Avera home now."
Gavriel Tigabo, an activist taking part in the struggle to secure Mengistu's release, explained in an interview with Army Radio that "from today on we're breaking the silence and taking responsibility for Avera's fate."
"He suffers from a mental illness, and therefore he needs to be released as soon as possible to receive treatment," emphasized Tigabo.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) stated in July that no terrorist prisoner swap deals would be made for Mengistu or the Israeli Bedouin Arab who it was reported also is being held by Hamas in Gaza.