Red Cross Prioritizes Issue of Captured Israelis as Aid Group’s Leader Visits Hamas-Ruled Gaza
JNS.org – The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, entered the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and was expected to raise the issue of three Israeli citizens who are held captive by Hamas in a meeting with Yahya Sinwar, the terror group’s new leader in the coastal territory.
“He’s going to discuss various concerns of the Red Cross, and the missing [Israelis] is one of the issues that we very closely follow,” an ICRC spokesperson said, i24 News reported.
Ethiopian Israeli Avera Mengistu and Bedouin Hisham al-Sayed, both said to be suffering from mental health issues, crossed into Gaza willingly in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and were captured by Hamas. A third Israeli citizen, Bedouin Jumaa Abu Ghanima, entered Gaza in July 2016.
The bodies of IDF Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin, who were killed in Gaza in separate battles during the Israel-Hamas war in the summer of 2014, are also both being held by the Palestinian terror group.
Hamas member Sheikh Hassan Yousef said on Tuesday the terror group had no interest in speaking with Maurer about releasing the Israelis unless he assists with advancing a prisoner exchange deal with Israel, reported Israel Radio.
Yousef also reportedly stated that Hamas would release information about the missing Israelis within 24-48 hours if Israel releases 58 Palestinian terrorist prisoners.
Maurer is also visiting the disputed territories to meet with Palestinian Authority officials, as part of his three-day tour of the region.