For those who read last night’s post, I’ve managed to confirm my original story through an independent Israeli source: an Israeli-Ethiopian from Ashkelon crossed the border into Gaza several weeks ago. The man was allegedly mentally ill and no one knows what drove him to do this. He is being held by authorities in Gaza. Israel has placed a gag order on the incident and the media may not report it. His family has been told not to speak to the media as this might endanger him by raising his profile, though I’d venture to guess that the real reason is that it would embarrass the Israeli government and raise his value in a prisoner exchange.
This could immensely complicate the upcoming negotiations on the return of IDF soldiers (or their remains) and Hamas militants to their respective countries. If Hamas has one or more live captives it would require Israel to offer something substantial in return. We’re possibly talking about the release of even more prisoners than the 1,000 involved in the Shalit negotiation.
That would explain the banner flying in Gaza recently which was referred to in yesterday’s post (displayed here). It features a picture of Oron Shaul behind bars intimating he is alive in Hamas hands. There is also a blank avatar with a question mark indicating they may hold a second individual. That could be the man from Ashkelon.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.