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Israeli hostages envoy meets US counterpart

Many of the at least 199 persons taken to Gaza are ill.

Deputy U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Steven Gillen meets with Brig. Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch at IDF Home Front Command headquarters in Ramla, Oct. 16, 2023. Credit: PMO.
Deputy U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Steven Gillen meets with Brig. Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch at IDF Home Front Command headquarters in Ramla, Oct. 16, 2023. Credit: PMO.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch, tapped by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as coordinator for the captives and the missing, held a second meeting with his U.S. counterpart on Monday.

U.S. Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Steven Gillen has been on the ground in Israel following the Hamas assaults that began on Oct. 7, which killed more than 1,400 Israelis and wounded at least 3,500 others.

Terrorists took at least 199 hostages from Israel to the Gaza Strip during the invasion, Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told journalists on Monday morning.

Dozens of U.S. citizens are believed to be among the abductees, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan said last week.

During Monday’s meeting with Hirsch, Gillen reiterated the Biden administration’s steadfast commitment to the security of Israel and to the return of the captives. He said the White House would do “everything necessary” to assist Jerusalem in its efforts, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

During a visit to the Gaza front on Sunday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi told troops they would soon enter the Strip. Resolving the hostage crisis is one of the operation’s goals.

Meanwhile on Monday, Israel Beiteinu Party chairman Avigdor Liberman called on the government to make humanitarian aid to Gaza contingent upon Red Cross access to the hostages.

Liberman demanded “that they get don’t get one crumb, that one liter of water won’t be transferred until the Red Cross sees our abductees.”

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which has brought together families with abducted or missing members and thousands of volunteers, over the weekend appealed to the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide the Israeli hostages with much-needed medical care.

“Many of the abducted and missing civilians are in life-threatening conditions and in urgent need of treatment and lifesaving medication for injuries. Based on initial and partial intake from their families, many of them need immediate humanitarian intervention due to their medical condition,” said the missive, which was signed by the head of the forum’s medical team, Dr. Hagai Levine.

“The following conditions were indicated [among the hostages] so far: diabetes mellitus, malignant diseases, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, stroke, autistic spectrum disorder, autoimmune disease (e.g. inflammatory bowel diseases, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis), asthma, COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia, allergic conditions, glaucoma and psychiatric disorders,” Levine informed the Red Cross.

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