Lifting a 10-month news blackout on the case, the Israeli authorities said that Avraham Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent in his 20s, “independently” crossed the Israeli-constructed security fence that runs around the Gaza Strip on Sept. 7. The other man said to be in Gaza, an Arab citizen of Israel, was not identified. The authorities provided few details about his case, other than that he had also crossed into Gaza.
The issue of Israelis in captivity is an emotional one in Israel, with the government’s having paid a high price in the past for the return of its citizens or of the remains of soldiers in lopsided prisoner exchange deals that have proved politically contentious, not least because of the large numbers of prisoners that Israel has released.
Mr. Mengistu, a resident of the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, entered the territory about two weeks after a cease-fire came into effect that ended the 50-day war last year between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza.