Al Jazeera Arabic broadcast the audio of an unidentified person pretending to be an Israeli soldier detained by the armed branch of Hamas, the al-Qassam brigades.
In the audio clip played on Sunday in a episodes for the Tip of the Iceberg research series, the person said that “he wonders if Israel is waiting and still exists. And if so, I wonder if the country’s leaders are thinking about their captured soldiers and are concerned about their freedom. “
He added, “He dies every day again,” saying he hoped to be with his family soon. “Please help,” he pleaded.
It was the first time Al-Qassam brigades had revealed such a recording.
Hamas has said it has two Israeli soldiers – Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul – who were captured during the 2014 war and two former soldiers – Hisham al-Sayed and Avera Mengistu – who entered Gaza in unclear conditions, according to reports .
Since its capture, Hamas has not revealed the fate of the four, but Israel claims that two soldiers died during the war and that Hamas only retains its remains.
After the program was released, some Israeli commentators said the man heard in the recording was Mengistu, an Israeli prisoner of Ethiopian descent. Israeli news channel Channel 12 also reported that Israeli defense officials were trying to find out if it was actually Mengistu.
Israeli media reported, however, that Mengistu’s mother believed the voice heard on the audio recording was not from her son.
“I can say unequivocally that it is not my son, it is not his voice,” Agarnesh Mengistu told Israeli public broadcaster Kan. “I’m looking forward to my son and look forward to seeing him soon as promised.”
The Israeli government’s coordinator for prisoners and missing persons, Yaron Blum, rejected the release of the images as “cheap manipulation by Hamas.”
Blum said Israel was “fully aware” of the condition of the soldiers, refuting Hamas’ claims that the two soldiers could be alive.
Images by Gilad Shalit
The tip of the iceberg too issue previously unrevealed images of former Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from his time in Hamas captivity. He was detained by Hamas between 2006 and 2011 after being abducted in a border operation.
The video footage shows Shalit doing daily activities such as exercising, shaving, tying the laces and playing with a ball.
The report featured members of the al-Qassam brigades allegedly involved in the capture of Shalit on June 5, 2006 and exclusive documents from the minutes of the negotiations on the prisoner exchange process five years later.
“I started firing and throwing grenades inside the tank. We reached the tank and a terrified soldier came out of the turret and surrendered. We were ordered to take him, ”said the unnamed member of Hamas involved in the capture of Shalit along with six other people.
Marwan Issa, sub-commander of the al-Qassam brigades, told Al Jazeera that after the capture of Shalit, several mediators from the Palestinian Authority (Egypt) and Egypt contacted them to release Shalit.
“We moved him from one place to another to protect him. The AP and Egypt tried to end the affair calmly, “said Issa.
Issa said: “More than once, Israel tried to kidnap senior Hamas officials, including Ahmad Jabari, and offered large sums of money to anyone who brought information about Shalit, but failed.” Jabari is the second in command of the al-Qassam brigades.
Shalit was released in 2011 in exchange for the release of 1,027 Palestinians. Hamas members handed him over to Egyptian mediators before taking him by helicopter to Tel Nof air base in central Israel, where he was received by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reunited with his family.
Former Israeli leader Ehud Olmert told Al Jazeera that, as prime minister, he rejected an agreement to release Shalit, citing a “very high price” demanded by Hamas.
According to the report, Gerhard Conrad, who was for decades a top mediator of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), contributed to the negotiations to free Shalit.
Conrad also played a key role in a 2004 prisoner exchange between the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah and Israel facilitated by the German BND.