FM Cohen says Red Cross failing mission; ICRC chief calls for immediate release of hostages

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen accuses the Red Cross of failing in its mission to care for Israeli and foreign hostages held by Hamas in Gaza following a meeting with visiting International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Mirjana Spoljaric Egger at Ben Gurion Airport.

Cohen says the organization has no right to exist if it does not reach them, determine their condition, and provide them with medical treatment and medications, in a statement following the sit-down.

Spoljaric tweets that the “hostages must be released – immediately” and that the ICRC must be “granted permission, with practical details agreed between the parties, for visits to take place.”

In his statement, Cohen reports that the meeting with Spoljaric — also attended by Health Minister Uriel Busso and several family members of the Israeli hostages — was not easy, especially given the difficult details the families shared. He reiterates Israel’s commitment to return all the hostages to their homes and families.

“The Red Cross’s number-one priority must be to bring medical help and medications to the hostages. For 67 days, the ICRC has failed in its responsibility to reach the hostages, give their families a sign of life, check their condition, and give them medications,” Cohen says.

“Every day that passes is another failure for the Red Cross,” he says.

Cohen says that he and the others at the meeting demanded that the Red Cross be more determined and aggressive in their efforts to reach the hostages and to make its voice heard on every possible occasion. They demanded that the humanitarian organization act immediately and without delay.

“We also told the Red Cross that we expect it to condemn Hamas’s war crimes, the slaughter of 1,200 civilians, the kidnapping of the elderly, rape of women. No humanitarian organization can be silent in the face of these atrocities,” Cohen says.

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