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Avera Mengistu

A fake news site from Gaza used a photo of a Black IDF member to spread the libel that a mentally unstable Ethiopian-Israeli hostage held by Hamas is an Israeli soldier.

By United with Israel Staff

Palestinian propagandists reached a new low this week, spreading lies about a young Israeli man named Avera Mengistu, who has been held hostage by the Hamas terror group since 2014.

A so-called Palestinian news agency called Gaza Now posted on Facebook and Telegram an image of a Black IDF soldier with the caption, “The Mengistu family from Ethiopia has been lying to the media that [their] son is not a soldier in the ranks of the Israeli occupation and that he is mentally disturbed, until the Palestinian resistance releases him …he is a soldier in the ranks of the occupation army and he is a captive in Gaza.”

Not only is this claim false, Gaza Now shamefully included in the post a 2012 photo of an actual IDF soldier who is Black in an apparent attempt to trick readers into thinking this soldier is Mengistu, according to a post on the he Israellycool.com site.

In reality, Mengistu is a Jewish Israeli of Ethiopian descent who was in his mid-20s when he accidentally crossed the border into Gaza in 2014. Hamas took the young man hostage and has refused to release him.

At a gathering in 2018 to raise awareness about Mengistu’s plight, his older brother Ilan explained that Avera had a breakdown and received treatment in a psychiatric hospital after the death of another one of their brothers.

“Avera was released before he was mentally stable,” JNS reported.

“Hamas is holding him as part of a political game against Israel,” said Ilan. “Holding a man with special needs as a hostage—this is very cruel.”

“Ilan called directly on Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar to ‘act as a human being, and take into account his mental well-being and release him today,’” added the JNS report.

Hamas has not heeded calls from the Israeli government and the Mengistu family and Avera has yet to be returned home to Israel. His plight is rarely, if ever raised, by so-called human rights organizations, despite their obsession with the Jewish state.