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Family of Ethiopian Israeli held in Gaza slams Hamas ‘hypocrisy’

Terror group demands probe after Egypt reportedly shot dead a mentally ill Palestinian who entered by sea

Agurnesh Mengistu, the mother of Avraham Mengistu, center, seen at a press conference at their home in Ashkelon, after a gag order was lifted over his disappearance in the Gaza Strip, on July 8, 2015. (Flash90)
Agurnesh Mengistu, the mother of Avraham Mengistu, center, seen at a press conference at their home in Ashkelon, after a gag order was lifted over his disappearance in the Gaza Strip, on July 8, 2015. (Flash90)

The family of an Ethiopian Israeli held in the Gaza Strip slammed Hamas Saturday for “hypocrisy” after the Palestinian terror group accused Egypt of “executing” a mentally ill man from the coastal enclave who had entered Egyptian territory by sea.

Avraham Mengistu, 28, crossed over into Gaza Strip last September. Israel maintains that he is being held by Hamas, though the Gaza-based terror group has refused to confirm it, and has not publicly issued any demands for his release. His family has said that Mengistu has a history of mental illness.

“It’s outrageous and shocking that a terrorist organization that keeps a mentally ill person instead of sending him home dares to cry out and demand prosecution for those responsible [for allegedly ‘executing’ a mentally ill Palestinian]. It is the height of hypocrisy,” the Mengistu family said in a statement.

There has been no word on Mengistu’s condition since his disappearance.

Earlier Saturday, Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since a bloody 2007 coup that ousted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, demanded that Cairo investigate the Friday night incident in which a Palestinian was killed, Reuters reported.

“It is clearly a cold-blooded execution, committed in broad daylight,” a spokesman for Gaza’s interior ministry said. According to Reuters, the man had waded through the Mediterranean from Gaza and past a wire fence into Egyptian territory when he was shot by troops at a nearby watchtower.

A video of the alleged incident aired by the Al Jazeera network shows a naked man walking through the shallow water when he is hit by shots fired by someone fired off screen.

Warning: Graphic video

The man falls into the water, at which point someone on the beach yells and waves at the security forces in a nearby watchtower who apparently shot to hold their fire. The man’s body is then seen washed up on the shore.

The Egyptian Interior Ministry had no immediate comment, Reuters said.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade of Gaza since Hamas seized power. Israel allows in closely monitored humanitarian supplies, while Egypt for years tolerated a smuggling industry that allowed hundreds of tunnels to bring in goods like cigarettes and spare parts, as well as weapons, into the Strip.

But after a major attack last year and reports of growing ties between Hamas and jihadists battling government forces in Egypt’s Sinai, the Egyptian military began clearing a buffer zone along the border in an attempt to stamp out the cross-border network of tunnels.

Ties between Hamas and Egypt stalled in 2013, when President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi rose to power after ousting his predecessor Mohamed Morsi of Muslim Brotherhood, to which Hamas was closely allied.

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