While claiming to abide by international humanitarian law, Hamas refused a request by the Red Cross to visit Israeli captives.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar rejected a request on Tuesday from the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to meet with Israelis believed to be held captive by the Gaza-based terrorist group.
Peter Maurer, president of the ICRC had requested meetings with Avraham Abera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed, and Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima, all of whom reportedly crossed from Israel into Gaza on their own accord in recent years, The Times of Israel reported.
Ethiopian Israeli Mengistu and Bedouin al-Sayed, both said to be suffering from mental health issues, crossed into Gaza willingly in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Abu Ghanima entered Gaza in July 2016.
In addition to the three civilians, Hamas is believed to be holding the remains of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin who were killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
The Associated Press reported that the issue of the missing Israelis was brought up during the meeting. However, Hamas continues to demand that Israel release the terrorists who have been re-arrested since their release in a 2011 prisoners swap before it provides any information on the three Israelis or the soldiers’ bodies it is holding.
Though Hamas has not allowed the ICRC access to its hostages, a statement released by the terrorist group claimed that Sinwar had told Maurer that “all institutions will be open before the Red Cross to ensure the standards of international humanitarian law are being applied.”
Terror Over Homes
In February Hamas admitted that it had turned down an Israeli offer to rebuild Gaza in exchange for freeing Mengistu, Sayed, and Abu Ghanima and the bodies of Shaul and Goldin.
Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh pointed out last year that Hamas has prioritized building up its terror infrastructure over rebuilding Gazan homes, writing that “the last thing Hamas cares about is the welfare of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas spends some $40 million of its $100 million military budget on tunnel construction, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. An Israeli official estimated in July that Hamas digs some six miles of tunnels every month.
Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, formerly the head of the research division of Israeli military intelligence and later the director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, told reporters last May that the tunnels were a sign that Hamas is preparing for another war against Israel. “They definitely invest a lot in making the necessary preparations so that in the next round, when they decide to start it, they will be able to inflict the heaviest damage on Israel, including through those tunnels,” he said.
By: The Tower
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