UN Committee demands the PA assist Israeli hostages in Gaza

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities made the request after three years of Israeli appeals for intervention.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A UN committee has demanded that the Palestinian Authority (PA) find the two Israelis being held hostage in the Gaza Strip and ensure they receive proper medical care, Haaretz reported Monday.

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities became involved two weeks ago after three years of requests for intervention by the families of Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who both suffer from psychiatric disabilities and entered Gaza on their own in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

The Committee also asked that the PA send them a report on their actions within six months, the article said.

Although the Committee has no power over the PA, the Hebrew University’s International Human Rights clinic , which is acting as the go-between for the families and the UN body, suggest that this international spotlight may help get the prisoners released.

“We hope international agencies like the Red Cross, the UN representative in PA territory and states in the region will use this decision as leverage for pressuring the Palestinian Authority to do whatever it can,” said clinic director Dana Yaffe.

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“Up until now the PA has taken no action on this matter. No investigation, no sanctions. They don’t see themselves as responsible. Now we can say that they have been found to be responsible.”

Although the Islamist Hamas organization overthrew the PA government in Gaza in 2007 and has been ruling there ever since, Ramallah’s authority officially extends to all areas Israel ceded to it in the Oslo Accords.

The PA has previously blamed Israel for its inability to investigate the prisoner issue. After the al-Sayed family appealed to the PA in 2021, its UN delegation responded, “If reports about Hisham being held in occupied Gaza by non-state groups are correct, this is a result of the ongoing occupation and the failure of the international community to end it.”

Both Israel and the self-declared “State of Palestine,” which has the status of a UN observer state, are signatories to the treaty that obligates countries to ensure the rights of disabled people.

To date, Hamas has never allowed any outsiders to visit the captives. In January it released an undated video of a man it purported was Mengistu, who asked, “How much longer will I be here in captivity after so many years of pain and suffering?” Last June, the terror group released a video of a man it said was al-Sayed, lying in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask over his face, after saying it would prove the captive’s condition was deteriorating.

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Jerusalem considered both moves to be attempts to pressure Israel for a prisoner swap.

The terror group has ignored other international requests to see the captives. The International Committee of the Red Cross was denied access, even after its president, Peter Maurer, made the appeal personally in a 2017 visit to Gaza.

At the time, the Red Cross said that it “consistently” urges the terror organization to comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law and release its live prisoners as well as the bodies of two IDF soldiers it snatched during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Lt. Hadar Goldin and St. Sgt. Oron Shaul.