Hostages may get medicine in Qatar-brokered deal

Families of the abductees say they will want ‘visual proof’ of their loved ones taking the medications before any quid pro quo is delivered.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Prime Minister’s Office announced Friday that a deal has been worked out through Qatar to deliver desperately-needed medications in the next few days to the 136 hostages Hamas is still holding.

Hamas framed the agreement differently, with Osama Hamdan, a Hamas official in Lebanon, thanking Qatar on Saturday for sending medicine to Gaza to help the Palestinian residents, “some” of which, he said, “will be used to treat Israeli prisoners.”

Israel has allegedly agreed to directly transfer humanitarian aid, including medications, to the Gaza Strip, instead of just allowing in aid trucks from other countries, NGOs and international groups after ensuring that no military items are being smuggled in to Hamas along with the food, water and fuel, which make up the vast majority of the supplies.

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which only heard about the deal from the media, said that no medical aid should enter the Gaza Strip until Hamas supplies “visual proof” that the medications reached the abductees.

“After 98 days in Hamas tunnels, all hostages face immediate mortal danger and need life-saving medicines,” their statement emphasized. “In addition to medicines, the hostages require also extensive medical treatment.”

Read  Israel, international jurists - Rafah op not forbidden by ICJ ruling

A Qatar-brokered deal in late November saw the release of 110 of some 250 people that Hamas fighters and other terrorists captured on October 7 during their surprise invasion of Israel in which they slaughtered 1,200 people, the vast majority of them civilians.

Those freed have attested to horrific abuse many of the hostages – especially the women, and especially sexual abuse – had suffered, and it is assumed that they continue to suffer 100 days into their captivity. From Hamas videos uploaded to the internet, others are known to have been severely wounded during their capture, such as American-Israeli Hersh Goldberg-Polin, whose arm was blown off below the elbow by a terrorist’s grenade.

There are also hostages who have been without their vitally-needed, regular medications, including many elderly men and those with chronic diseases such as Crohn’s and severe asthma.

Israel has already announced that some 23 hostages have died or were murdered in Hamas captivity, and the families in the Forum have gone around the world to plead for pressure to be applied to Hamas to release their relatives before they join the ranks of mourners.

They have also applied continuous pressure on their own government, whose officials from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on down have repeatedly stated that they are working day and night on many parallel channels to get the hostages freed. The government, and the IDF, believe that the military advances in Gaza are the best way to coerce Hamas into releasing their captives.

Read  Sisters of hostage whose body was recovered from Gaza: 'We are broken'

The International Committee of the Red Cross, whose stated mission is in part to visit those captured in military conflicts and ensure their health and safety, has not only not seen a single Israeli hostage since their abduction, its officials have actually refused to take medications for them and told the families that they should “care more” about the Gazan civilians who have been injured than their own relatives.

How Israel can ensure that the sight of hostages actually taking their medications is a regular occurrence rather than a one-time public relations stunt, is an open question.