Israel slams Hamas for holding ‘mentally ill’ captives, does not deny health woes

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office is lashing out at the Hamas terror group after it issued a warning regarding the deteriorating health of an Israeli citizen held captive in the Gaza Strip.

“Hamas has proven again tonight that it is a cynical, criminal organization, which holds mentally ill civilians against all international rules and norms, as well as the bodies of soldiers,” the PMO says in a statement.

It adds that Israel plans to continue negotiating for their return via Egyptian mediation.

The statement does not address the health of either Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, the two known living Israeli captives in Gaza.

The comments are also not reflective of an earlier statement, which circulated in the Hebrew-language press, attributed to unnamed defense officials, which dismissed the Hamas claim as “psychological warfare.”

“We do not recognize any change in their health,” one official told the Kan public broadcaster.

Abu Obeida, the spokesperson for Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has not specified whether Mengistu or al-Sayed were suffering from health issues, nor how serious they were. But he vows that Hamas will publish proof of its claims in the coming hours.

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