TEL AVIV (Sputnik) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday demanded the release of two Israeli nationals that are believed to be held in the Gaza Strip, local media reported.
Two young Israelis of Ethiopian and Arab origin separately crossed into the Hamas-controlled Gaza exclave and went missing almost a year ago. One of them is 26-year-old Avera Mengistu. The identity of the second man, a Bedouin from the Negev desert, has not been revealed.
"We are working for the return of two Israelis who crossed the border into Gaza… We see Hamas as responsible for their safety," the prime minister said.
According to Israeli media, Hamas could be planning to swap the Israelis for militants held in Israel’s jails. In 2006, they abducted an Israeli soldier in a raid and kept him captive for five years before exchanging him for a thousand of Palestinians.