Red Cross presses Hamas to release captive Israelis, bodies of IDF soldiers

The Red Cross is urging Hamas to comply with international law and release five Israelis who went missing in Gaza.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday urged the Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip, to comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law and release five Israelis who went missing in Gaza and remain unaccounted for, including two soldiers presumed killed in action during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

The families of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul have been pressing the ICRC to intervene for the return of their sons’ bodies to Israel for proper burial. Hadar’s parents, Leah and Simcha, met earlier this week with ICRC representatives on the matter.

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.

The fate of the other three Israeli nationals – Avera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed, and Jumaa Abu Ghanima – remains unknown.

Jacques de Maio, head of the ICRC delegation in Israel, stated Thursday that “missing persons, regardless of their status – fallen or captured soldiers during fighting, or civilians taken captive by an adverse party – are protected by humanitarian law. They and their families must be shown due regard under the law.”

“Persons captured alive must be accounted for and treated humanely. Human remains, too, must be handled with dignity, identified and returned to the families concerned,” de Maio said.

“These are among the most widely accepted rules of warfare. The ICRC has consistently reminded the Hamas authorities, at the highest level, of their legal and humanitarian obligations, and told them that intentionally withholding information about missing persons is acting in violation of humanitarian law,” de Maio added.

“The ICRC is in direct contact with the families concerned and remains committed to ascertaining the fate of all persons still unaccounted for,” he said.

World Jewish Congress (WJC) CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer met Thursday in Geneva with ICRC President Peter Maurer to deliver a petition signed by 11,000 people on behalf of the Goldin and Shaul families, calling on the ICRC to press Hamas for the release of the soldiers’ bodies.

“We have faith that the Red Cross will act honorably in accordance with its mandate and do everything possible to have the bodies of these soldiers repatriated,” Singer said after the meeting.

Israel and Hamas have negotiated on the issue. The terror group has rejected various Israeli offers.

By: World Israel News Staff