Israel has announced that the two Israeli citizens are being held by the Palestinian resistance movement (Hamas) in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has declined to comment on this information.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the first captive citizen is of Ethiopian origin and his name is Avera Mengistu. He is 28 years old and was last seen in September 2014.
The second prisoner is an unnamed Arab. Information about him is scarce, as Israeli sources have not reported his name or family history.
"I call on Hamas to release my brother immediately. I ask the international community to act in order to free him, he is not a healthy person. This is a humanitarian issue," Mengistu's older brother Ilan said in a prepared statement on Thursday.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said on Thursday that he was in contact with Mengistu’s family. Rivlin said all of the relevant authorities "are working on the case and have been following events since the moment that Avram [Mengisto] crossed the fence."
The president said the release of Mengistu was a humanitarian issue "and we expect those holding him to act accordingly and release him while his condition is stable."
Hamas has not yet commented on the matter.
The reaction of the Israeli street to the announcement that Mengistu is being held has been vocal, because the Israeli authorities previously hid information about Mengistu from September 2014. The fact that Mengistu is of Ethiopian origin has increased the sensitivity of the matter.
There have been accusations among the Israeli public that the authorities have been negligent in dealing with Mengistu’s situation because he is of African origin.