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Netanyahu to Red Cross: Pressure Hamas to release hostages

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets in Tel Aviv with International Committee of the Red Cross president Mirjana Spoljaric, Dec. 14, 2023. Photo by Haim Zach/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets in Tel Aviv with International Committee of the Red Cross president Mirjana Spoljaric, Dec. 14, 2023. Photo by Haim Zach/GPO.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Thursday at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv with International Committee of the Red Cross President Mirjana Spoljaric Egger.

Netanyahu recounted the atrocities carried out by Hamas during its Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 people in Israel, including the murder of children and infants, and the abuse and brutal rapes of women.

He also described the inhuman conditions in which Hamas is holding some 138 hostages and the terror group’s refusal to provide them with humanitarian assistance. Netanyahu presented Spoljaric with a full package of vital medicines and demanded that the ICRC fulfill its role by delivering it to the hostages in the Gaza Strip.

“They’ve taken children, babies, women, old people, Holocaust survivors, festival participants. After they shot hundreds, murdered over 1,200 people, they take these people as hostages. Where’s that heard of?” said Netanyahu.

“If they had the capability, they would have killed every last one of us. They didn’t, because we fought back, sometimes with incredible odds. People, mothers, fought with fingernails. There’s a difference between the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming and menacing of civilians, which is what terrorism is, and the unintended consequences, unintended casualties that accompany any warfare. This is the entire difference,” continued the premier.

“I want to express my gratitude for your help in securing the release of the hostages, but at the same time, some of the statements that have come out from your organization seem to not make the distinction that I’ve just made,” added Netanyahu. “My goal, as you know in our conversations, is to see how we can help the remaining hostages. You have every avenue, every right and every expectation to place public pressure on Hamas.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog also met on Thursday with Spoljaric, emphasizing Israel’s “firm demand for the immediate return of all the hostages held captive in Gaza for 70 days by cruel Hamas terrorists—without being allowed visitation by the Red Cross or the provision of life-saving drugs.”

Herzog said that Spoljaric pledged that the swift return of the hostages is a “top priority,” and she reviewed a series of actions and humanitarian steps being taken to try to ease their suffering and have them returned to their families.

The Red Cross has been accused of denying medicine to an Israeli hostage whom it brought out of Gaza. “My mother was medically neglected,” Tali Amano said of her mother Alma Avraham, 84. “She was abandoned twice—once on Oct. 7 and a second time by all of the organizations that should have saved her.”

The Israel Embassy in Washington wrote on Nov. 28: “Alma Avraham, 84, was taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7 and was in need of life-saving medication. Her family begged a Red Cross representative to pass on the medication to her…. Alma returned to Israel in critical condition. She was hospitalized and is currently fighting for her life.”

The Red Cross has also drawn criticism recently for reportedly telling the family of another hostage: “Think about the Palestinian side. It’s hard for the Palestinians, they’re being bombed.”

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