Two Israelis held in Gaza, one by Hamas: Israel

An official said the Israeli of Ethiopian origin ran past the border fence into the Gaza Strip last September

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Israeli authorities say two Israeli citizens are being held in the Gaza Strip, at least one of them by the Hamas militant group.

The Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs said Avraham Mangisto crossed the border fence into the Gaza Strip on Sept. 7 last year, nearly two weeks after the end of the Israel-Gaza war.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said that “according to credible intelligence,” Mangisto is being held “against his will” by Hamas. It said “Israel has appealed (to) international and regional interlocutors to demand his immediate release and verify his well-being.”

COGAT said the second Israeli citizen being held in Gaza is an Arab citizen of Israel. It provided no further details.

Israel has been fearful of Gaza militants getting hold of its citizens and using them as bargaining chips for the release of Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

Israeli media said Mangisto crossed into the Gaza Strip of his own volition.

Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was abducted by militants in a cross-border raid in 2006, was released after more than five years in captivity in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said earlier this week Israel was seeking the return of the remains of two soldiers killed during last year’s Gaza war.

Contacted by Reuters, Hamas declined to comment.

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