Medicines for hostages found in Gaza hospital sent privately by families – report

Relatives said to have worked with European organizations to arrange a shipment of drugs for captives in November; no indication they ever reached intended recipients

Workers and staff unload medical aid delivered by the International Committee of the Red Cross at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 9, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Workers and staff unload medical aid delivered by the International Committee of the Red Cross at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 9, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

Dozens of containers of medication bearing the names of Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip that were found by Israel Defense Forces soldiers at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis had been sent as part of a private initiative by relatives of several captives that did not involve Israeli authorities, according to a Saturday report.

The families gathered a list of medicines the hostages needed and, working together with David Meidan — a former top hostage negotiator — along with local and international groups, had the medicines shipped in November via unnamed European countries, Channel 12 news reported.

After arriving in Egypt from Europe, the medications entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing, the report said, while noting there has yet to be any indication they reached the intended recipients.

Two hundred and fifty-three hostages were taken on October 7, when Palestinian terror group Hamas led a devastating attack on southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people and committing wholesale atrocities. Over half the hostages remain in captivity.

Many of the hostages, including a number of elderly men, suffer from chronic conditions, making the delivery of medication essential. Efforts to negotiate their freedom from Hamas captivity have yet to bear fruit.

The initiators of the medicine shipment were Rotem Cooper, son of Nurit and Amiram Cooper who were both kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz, and Efrat Machikawa, whose uncle and aunt Margalit and Gadi Mozes were also abducted from the kibbutz. Nurit Cooper was released in October, and Margalit Mozes was released in a hostage deal in late November.

The pair worked in coordination with, among others, Dan Sobovitz, a board member of the Jewish Secular Community Center David Susskind (CCLJ) in Brussels, who has led the European campaign on behalf of the hostages, the report said.

Efrat Machikawa, whose uncle Gadi Mozes is in Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip since his capture from Kibbutz Nir Oz on Oct. 7, as families of hostages call out to their loved ones on loudspeakers in hopes that the hostages will hear, at the Gaza border in Kibbutz Nirim, southern Israel, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Channel 12 described the process as “complex and very complicated,” without elaborating.

The families behind the project revealed the details after the medicines were found by IDF soldiers in Nasser Hospital. According to the report, they wanted to send a message to Israeli leaders to “think outside the box” regarding the hostage situation and efforts to see them released. Negotiations for a hostage deal similar to one that freed some captives in November have reportedly ground to a halt.

On Friday, the IDF said that during operations at Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, troops found medications with the names of hostages on them. “The origin of the medication and their use is under investigation,” it said.

Troops had entered the Nasser Hospital building on Thursday after surrounding the hospital for a week, saying they had information that hostages had been held there and that some bodies of dead hostages may still be at the site. At least one released hostage has said that she and over two dozen other captives were held inside the hospital.

Soldiers found mortars, grenades, and other weaponry belonging to Hamas inside the medical facility, along with the medications with the names of hostages on them.

Screenshot showing medication packages from IDF video shot inside a tunnel beneath Khan Younis where 12 hostages were held. The video was released on February 7, 2024. (Courtesy of IDF)

Meanwhile, there continues to be no update on whether the terms of a separate deal announced by Qatar on January 16 for the delivery of medication to hostages were carried out. Beginning on January 17, medications were supposed to be supplied to the hostages in return for a large amount of medical supplies and other aid for Gazans.

As part of the deal, Israel demanded visual proof that the relevant medications reached each hostage. The Red Cross, which has been accused of shirking its responsibility to ensure medical care for the kidnapped Israelis, refused to be involved in the delivery of medications. The international humanitarian organization has also not visited the hostages in the four and a half months since October 7.

France, which played a major role in brokering the agreement, said it has begun to pressure Qatar to determine where the drugs for the hostages are.

Earlier this month, the IDF released a video showing medications found in a tunnel deep below Khan Younis where hostages had allegedly been held. There was no narration during the part of the video in which the drug packages are shown and the IDF declined to provide any additional information that could shed light on that portion of the video. The Prime Minister’s Office also refused to comment.

The Times of Israel was unable to establish whether the medication in the video was part of the supply transferred from Qatar.

Weekly Saturday rallies in Tel Aviv have called on the government to reach a deal for the release of the captives.

A man walks past a truck carrying humanitarian aid from the UK that entered Gaza by truck through the Kerem Shalom on February 17, 2024, in Rafah on the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas. (Said Khatib/AFP)

In response to the Hamas on October 7, Israel launched a military offensive with the aim of securing the release of the hostages, toppling Hamas from power in Gaza, and destroying the terror group. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said Saturday that 28,858 people have been killed in the enclave since the start of the war, and a further 68,667 have been wounded.

These figures cannot be independently verified and do not distinguish between Hamas members and civilians. They also include Palestinians killed as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it has killed nearly 11,000 Hamas operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

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