PM Netanyahu and ICRC President Peter Maurer (Kobi Gideon/GPO) (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
PM Netanyahu and ICRC President Peter Maurer

Netanyahu met with ICRC President Maurer in Jerusalem to discuss the'”unbelievable cruelty” with which Hamas is treating the Israeli citizens it holds captive.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Wednesday in Jerusalem with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer and discussed with him the fate of three Israeli civilians and the remains of two IDF soldiers believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza.

Netanyahu expressed appreciation to Maurer for “a very decent and very open relationship between the Red Cross and Israel that is very valuable for the Red Cross, for Israel and for peace.”

Netanyahu pointed out that Maurer’s visit comes at a time when Israel is concerned about Hamas’ “unbelievable cruelty as the bodies of its slain soldiers are kept, and even information about them is kept, and, no less important, innocent, defenseless civilians are being held in Gaza.”

Hamas is believed to be holding the remains of two soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, killed during the 2014 war.

Shaul was killed in battle together with another six Golani soldiers in Shajaiya in 2014 when their armored personnel carrier was hit by an anti-tank rocket. His body was never recovered and is assumed to be held by Hamas.

Goldin was abducted by Hamas and killed during a battle with Hamas terrorists in Shajaiya. Two other IDF soldiers also died in the incident.

In addition, Hamas is believed to be holding three Israeli civilians who scaled a border fence and entered Gaza. 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.

While visiting Gaza and meeting with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar earlier this week, Maurer requested to meet the Israeli captives but was refused by Hamas.

ICRC Can Help

Netanyahu said that Israel has sought information about its missing citizens, only to be rebuffed by Hamas. He further expressed his appreciation for all of the ICRC President’s help and assistance in this humanitarian effort “in the face of Hamas’ cruelty.”

Maurer noted that the Red Cross has been in the region for a long time and that this was one of its longest-running operations, and said he was “looking forward once again toward having the opportunity to look into some of the challenges that everyone is currently confronted with and to see how the ICRC can eventually help with them.”

Netanyahu declared he was sure that the ICRC could help, both in retrieving the bodies of Israel’s fallen soldiers and in bringing back to Israel the “defenseless, helpless civilians who are being held by Hamas in contravention of all international norms and the ideals that the Red Cross was established for.”

Hamas has not publicly released any evidence confirming it is holding the men, and their families have not heard from them.

There have reportedly been secret negotiations between Israel and Hamas to reach a deal on the issue.

Sinwar said Hamas will not release any information about the missing Israelis until Israel frees 58 Palestinian terrorists originally released in the 2011 prisoner swap, when 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were freed in exchange for Gilad Shalit. The 58 Palestinian criminals whose release Hamas is demanding were later rearrested for continuing their terror activities.

By: United with Israel Staff

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