Israel has agreed to allow more aid trucks into the Gaza Strip in return for the delivery of badly needed medicines to Israeli hostages held by Hamas, Qatar’s foreign ministry announced on Tuesday evening.
Under the deal brokered by Qatar and France, two Qatari military planes will leave Doha on Wednesday for Egypt’s El Arish airport near the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, according to spokesman Majed al-Ansari.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the agreement, saying that Qatari representatives would personally accompany the shipment to its “final destination” in the Strip.
“Israel insists that all the medicines reach their destination,” the statement added. Jerusalem is reportedly overseeing the security aspects of the entire operation.
France sent the medicines to Qatar after an agreement with Doha was reached late last week, local media reported earlier on Tuesday.
French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly ordered the foreign ministry in Paris to make a list of medicines for 45 captives who need them and who have been hostages for more than 100 days. They were purchased and delivered to Doha on Saturday.
The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, a group representing relatives of the captives, has said it would demand “visual proof” that the medicine had reached the hostages.
On Saturday, Osama Hamdan, a Hamas terrorist leader in Lebanon, told the France 24 broadcaster that only “some medicine will be used to treat Israeli prisoners.”
According to official figures in Israel, around 136 hostages remain in Gaza, although dozens are believed to be dead. Many of the captives are in desperate need of medical attention.
Mor Hershkovitz, the head of data operations with the Hostages and Missing Families Forum’s medical team, previously told JNS that many were in critical condition or might even already be dead.
“Some suffer from serious heart and kidney conditions and should be taking blood-thinning medication. Others were wounded during their brutal kidnapping,” said Hershkovitz. Some of these wounds could lead to death within hours or even minutes, she added.
International law explicitly stipulates the obligation of participants in armed conflict to allow impartial humanitarian bodies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross access to hostages.
According to Fabrizio Carboni, Red Cross regional director for the Near and Middle East, the organization has yet to receive clearance by Hamas to visit the Israeli hostages.