Israel has reportedly refused a request by a senior Hamas official in Gaza to travel to Turkey for medical treatment via Israel, citing the Islamist terrorist group's continued isolation of a mentally-ill Israeli.
According to Kol Yisrael Radio Palestinian Affairs Correspondent Gal Berger, Ihab al-Rasin – a senior official at Hamas's Information Ministry – asked the IDF for a permit to cross into Israel, from where he would continue on to Jordan and then Turkey.
Al-Rasin is currently hospitalized in Gaza with an unspecified virus, after his condition rapidly deteriorated recently, but requires more advanced treatment abroad.
But COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories – the IDF branch responsible for Judea, Samaria and Gaza) rejected his application. Instead, he will need to ask Egypt – whose blockade of Gaza is far more restrictive than Israel's – for permission to travel via the Rafah Crossing, which was recently reopened for a short period after Egyptian authorities sealed it off.
According to Berger, in its response the IDF told Hamas that "in Gaza there are also Israeli humanitarian cases," a reference to two Israeli citizens currently being held by Hamas.
One of them, Avraham (Avera) Mengistu, has a long history of mental illness and a record of going missing for prolonged periods. He was kidnapped by Hamas nearly a year ago after wandering into the Islamist-held territory, apparently during a psychological episode.
Despite pleas from the Mengistu family, Hamas has since refused to provide any signs of life, or allow international humanitarian organizations access to him.