Gaza: Hamas releases footage of detained Israeli on ventilator

Video still released by Hamas purportedly showing Hisham al-Sayed on a ventilator (screengrab)

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  June 28, 2022

Hisham al-Sayed was first arrested after allegedly wandering into the Gaza Strip in 2015.

The Palestinian movement Hamas released footage of a detained Israeli man on a ventilator, the first image of the man shown to the public since he crossed into the Gaza Strip and was arrested seven years ago. 

Hisham al-Sayed, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, wandered into the besieged enclave in 2015 where he was captured by Hamas, the de-facto ruler of Gaza, who accused him of a being  “a soldier in the occupation army”.

His father Sha’aban al-Sayed said that while Hisham served in the Israeli military for a few months, at the time he entered Gaza he had been a civilian.

Abu Obaida, the spokesperson of Hamas’ military wing Izzideen al-Qassam Brigades, said in a rare statement on Monday that “the health of one of the enemy prisoners” had deteriorated and that it would release proof “in the coming hours”. 

The group also holds another Israeli citizen, Avera Mengistu, who entered the Strip in September 2014 for unclear reasons. 

Two Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, were captured a month earlier by the group. Israel says both are presumed dead, while Hamas refused to comment on whether they are alive or dead.  

Hisham’s father has previously called on Hamas to release his son, saying he suffered from mental health issues and had been receiving care.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Israeli Foreign Minister – and incoming prime minister – Yair Lapid said Hamas was holding Israeli civilians “in violation of international law”.

“These two are mentally ill and holding them captive for years is an act of inconceivable cruelty,” he wrote.

“Hamas also holds the bodies of two IDF soldiers, the late Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, while trampling on all boundaries of morality and international law.”

Israel holds more than 4,700 Palestinian prisoners, including 640 who are in administrative detention with no charge or trial or definitive release date. 

Prisoner swap ?

Hamas and Israel have indirectly negotiated a prisoner swap deal at various times since 2014 without a breakthrough. 

According to Haaretz, the Israeli prime minister’s office said they would continue working with Egypt to negotiate the Israeli’s release.

Israel has in the past engaged in prisoner swaps with Hamas.

The most famous trade came in 2011, when Gilad Shalit – an Israeli soldier abducted by the Palestinian group in a cross-border raid in 2006 – was released in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

Hundreds of Palestinians released as part of the so-called Shalit deal were later re-arrested by Israel, however, and made to serve the rest of their sentences.

Last June, Hamas released an alleged audio recording of Mengistu, although this was disputed by his mother.

Israel’s government coordinator for prisoners and missing persons, Yaron Blum, also dismissed the claims and described the audio recording as an attempt at “cheap manipulation” by Hamas. 

AFP contributed to this report