Trump envoy meets families of Gaza captives, slams ‘despicable’ acts by Hamas
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Trump envoy meets families of Gaza captives, slams ‘despicable’ acts by Hamas

Jason Greenblatt empathizes with ‘unbearable pain’ and ‘horrible suffering’ felt by relatives, says ‘all Israelis must be returned’

US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt attends a press conference regarding the water agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on July 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90/File)
US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt attends a press conference regarding the water agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on July 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90/File)

US President Donald Trump’s top peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, met Thursday with families of Israelis held captive in the Gaza Strip, expressing complete support for their plight and slamming the Palestinian terror group Hamas for confining them.

In a series of tweets, Greenblatt said he had met with families of Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, Israeli civilians who are believed to have crossed into Gaza of their own accord. He also met with the families of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, whose remains were seized after they were killed in battle during the 2014 war with Hamas.

Greenblatt, who previously met all the families in 2017, wrote that he had “again met with the Goldin & Shaul families,” adding that they are “suffering unbearable pain as a result the shameful, despicable acts of Hamas. All Israelis must be returned.”

The peace envoy then met the Mengistu and al-Sayed families. “How reprehensible of Hamas to cause such horrible suffering,” he said, echoing his previous remarks on the matter.

Mengistu, 30, of Ashkelon, is believed to have voluntarily climbed over the security fence between Israel and Gaza in September 2014 and has not been heard from since. He is mentally ill, according to his family.

Sayed also crossed into Gaza on his own in April 2015 and is said to be mentally ill.

Greenblatt also posted a photo of his meeting with brothers of both missing civilians. “Their heartfelt plea: Send our brothers home!” he wrote.

In July, Greenblatt met with the Mengistu and al-Sayed families and “expressed outrage that Hamas has not allowed the Israelis, some of whom may need medical assistance, to communicate with their families and return home,” a White House statement said. He also “expressed his sincere hope that all three Israelis would be returned to their families immediately.”

Since then, relations between Palestinians and the Trump administration have sharply deteriorated, particularly since Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The declaration angered Palestinians and led their leadership to boycott the US administration.

The declaration sparked violent protests in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. December also saw a surge in rocket attacks from Gaza, with Hamas, the terror group that rules the enclave and seeks to destroy Israel, calling for a new intifada to liberate Jerusalem and urging Palestinians to confront soldiers and settlers.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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