Hamas leaders in Gaza released a video of an Israeli citizen held incommunicado since 2015, showing the man lying in a hospital bed wearing an oxygen mask.
It was the first image of Hisham al-Sayed to be released since crossing the border from southern Israel into Gaza. His release came a day after Hamas said the condition of one of the Israelis it was holding had deteriorated.
In the video, Sayed, 34, is seen lying in bed with a mask over his mouth and nose and what appears to be an oxygen canister next to him. He looks tired and dazed. He does not speak and there is no audio.
Other parts of the video show an IV drip next to the bed as well as an image of Sayed’s Israeli ID card. Sayed is a member of Israel’s Bedouin Arab minority.
The video is titled “Footage of occupation army soldier Hisham Sayed detained by the Qassam Brigades”. There is no date on the video, but a TV screen in the video shows images from the Qatar Economic Forum, which was held in Doha last week.
Sayed is one of two Israeli civilians believed to be held by Hamas. Rights groups say both suffer from mental illness. The Islamic militant group has given no details of the conditions or whereabouts of its prisoners and has never allowed the Red Cross to visit them.
Late Monday, after Hamas’ update on the condition of its prisoners, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Hamas was a “cynical and criminal terrorist organization that detains mentally ill civilians in violation of all international conventions and laws.
Hamas demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including those convicted of murderous attacks, in exchange for the captive Israelis.
Hamas is also believed to hold the remains of two soldiers killed in a 2014 war. Israel declared the soldiers dead, although Hamas has never confirmed this.
Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies who have fought four wars and dozens of minor skirmishes since Hamas took control of Gaza 15 years ago.
Israel and Egypt maintained a strict blockade on the territory throughout this period. Israel says the closure is necessary to prevent Hamas from building up its military capabilities, while critics say the policy amounts to collective punishment of Gaza’s 2 million Palestinian residents.
Israel says there can be no major progress towards lifting the blockade until the remnants of soldiers and captive civilians are freed.
The prime minister’s office said Israel would continue to work through Egyptian mediation to secure the release of the captives.