Report: Int'l Red Cross Committee chair asks Hamas to visit missing Israelis in Gaza

Alyona Synenko, an ICRC spokeswoman, said that she could not confirm the exact details of Maurer and Sinwar’s meeting, but said the issue of the missing Israelis was one of many issues on the agenda.

September 5, 2017 17:01
2 minute read.
Israelis gaza

Mengistu, Goldin and Shaul. (photo credit: Courtesy,REUTERS)

Peter Maurer, chairman of the International Committee of the Red Cross, on Tuesday asked Hamas chief in Gaza Yahya Sinwar for permission to visit Israelis believed to be held in captivity by the group.

Maurer made the request during an hour-long meeting with Sinwar and other senior Hamas officials in Gaza City on Tuesday morning, the Ma’an News Agency reported, referencing Palestinian sources.

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Hamas is thought to be holding three Israeli citizens – Avera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima – and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.

Hamas officials have said that they want to negotiate a prisoner swap with Israel, but have refused to begin talks until Israel frees 54 prisoners who were rearrested after being released in a previous prisoner exchange.

The Ma’an report did not say how Sinwar responded to Maurer’s request.

However, a readout of Maurer and Sinwar’s meeting on Hamas’s official website said Sinwar “affirmed that all institutions will be open for the Red Cross to verify that standards of international humanitarian law are being implemented.”

It is not clear if all institutions means that Hamas will allow Maurer to visit the Israelis believed to be captives in Gaza.

Alyona Synenko, an ICRC spokeswoman, said she could not confirm the exact details of Maurer and Sinwar’s meeting, but said the issue of the missing Israelis was one of many items on the agenda.

In addition to meeting Sinwar, Maurer also met with civilians and families of prisoners from Gaza currently incarcerated in Israel.

“I wanted to assure the Gazan population and the authorities here that the ICRC will continue to do its best to support those who suffer most,” Maurer said, briefly addressing reporters in the Strip.

The ICRC sponsors a number of humanitarian aid programs in Gaza, including giving assistance to prisoners’ families, increasing access to water and providing backup generators for hospitals.

Later Tuesday evening, Maurer and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in Ramallah. The PA president told Maurer that he is committed to making peace through the establishment of an independent Palestinian state along pre-1967 lines, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

Maurer is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday in Jerusalem and hold a press conference on Thursday to share his impressions.

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