Gaza: Hamas releases video of Israeli prisoner on oxygen
Hisham al-Sayed has been in the hands of the extremist movement since 2015. In seven years it is the first evidence that he is still alive, although his health condition appears precarious. The footage is believed to be recent and its release is an attempt to force prisoner negotiations. In Jenin Israeli soldiers kill a 25-year-old Palestinian man.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Hamas militiamen released a video yesterday showing, for the first time in seven years, an image of an Israeli citizen seized by the group that controls the Gaza Strip. Hisham al-Sayed has been in the hands of the Palestinian extremist movement since 2015. He appeared in poor health, semi-conscious, lying in a bed and attached to an oxygen tank. Commenting on the release of a video depicting a sick person, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke of a "reprehensible and desperate" act.
There is currently no independent confirmation of the authenticity of the footage and whether it is recent. However, some details reveal evidence that there is no manipulation and that it was recorded no later than a month ago, given a program that is glimpsed on a television positioned in the background of the room.
According to Hamas, al-Sayed was a military man who, at the time of capture, had snuck inside the Palestinian enclave. The Israeli government and his family maintain he is a civilian moreover suffering from severe mental disorders. The activist group Human Rights Watch (Hrw) had also intervened on the abduction in the past, speaking of "arbitrary detention" of a person last seen "walking into the Strip in April 2015" for unknown reasons. The man had previously tried several times to cross the border.
In the video released by Hamas, the 34-year-old man, a member of the Bedouin Arab minority, appears lying in a bed and attached to a fan, with what appears to be his ID card issued by Israeli authorities next to him. In the background, a television was showing footage of a conference devoted to economics and held in Qatar in early June.
In releasing the video, the Palestinian militant group gave no particular indication of the detainee's health status, except for a vague reference to a "worsening" condition that occurred on June 27. Israeli authorities confirm that this is one of two citizens still in the hands of Hamas; the second is Avera Mengistu, who has not been heard from since September 2014 when he was picked up by militiamen after breaking into the Strip. Again, international activists and NGOs speak of detention in a state of "captivity" in blatant "violation" of international law. Both entered Gaza on purpose, violating a specific Israeli provision that prohibits its citizens from entering the Palestinian enclave.
Analysts and experts report that the timing and manner of the video's release could indicate an attempt by Hamas to put pressure on Israel to resume negotiations on the prisoner exchange. In 2011, the extremist group released Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for a thousand Palestinians held in Israeli jails.
Meanwhile, there is another Palestinian victim, who died in the early hours of today during a shooting incident in Jenin, West Bank. 25-year-old Mohammad Marei was shot in the chest during a patrol operation during which soldiers say they were attacked and responded by opening fire. "A number of suspects," the army explained in a note, "threw explosive devices.
The latest casualty confirms the tense atmosphere in the region for weeks: since March, at least 19 Israelis - mostly civilians - have died in attacks launched by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs; in response, the Star of David army operations, which now take place on a daily basis, have claimed 48 lives (both militiamen and ordinary people) among Palestinians, with most of the killings occurring in the West Bank.