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Father of Israeli Ethiopian held in Gaza asks Abbas for help

The father of Avraham Mengistu, the Israeli Ethiopian man who is being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, on Wednesday appealed to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to help establish the whereabouts of his son.

The appeal came during a meeting in Ramallah between the father, Eli, and Abbas, the PA’s official news agency Wafa said.

Mengistu crossed into the Gaza Strip on September 7, 2014 and has since been missing. He was reportedly detained and interrogated by Hamas. His family says he’s mentally unstable and has been treated in a mental hospital in the past.

According to Wafa, Mengistu’s father was among a group of Israeli Ethiopians who met with Abbas in his Ramallah office on Wednesday evening.

The group was led by former MK Shlomo Molla and Avihu Azaria, a spiritual leader of the Ethiopian community in Israel.

The agency quoted Mengistu’s father as telling Abbas during the meeting: “We call upon President Abbas to help us establish the whereabouts of our son, who lost his way and has been held in the Gaza Strip for several years. The Israeli government has presented nothing to the family regarding his case. We appeal to President Abbas to solve his case.”

Molla, for his part, was quoted as telling Abbas that the Ethiopian community in Israel sees Abbas as a “real partner for making peace and ending the conflict, which has lasted for too long and affected the lives of people in the region.”

Molla was also quoted as saying that when he was in the Knesset, he worked toward supporting the two-state solution through “peace lovers in Israel and international organizations that support the option of peace.”

The PA agency quoted Molla as saying that members of the Ethiopian community in Israel “do not receive rights and equality like other segments of Israeli society, and have no say in Israeli political decision-making.”

Abbas told the delegation that the Palestinians have always moved in the direction of peace and living in stability and security, the agency said.

Abbas said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s talk about extending Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the Northern Dead Sea was “rejected and unacceptable,” adding that its implementation would undermine the chances of reaching peace.

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