ICRC president pledges to try to bring home Israelis missing in Gaza

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September 8, 2017 18:24

Peter Mauer said he was committed to solving all humanitarian crises involving missing persons.

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International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer speaks at a World Jewish Cong

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer speaks at a World Jewish Congress meeting, September 2017. (photo credit:Courtesy)

Speaking at a meeting of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations this week, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross said he is committed to solving the humanitarian crises of missing persons, including Israeli civilians and soldiers being held in Gaza.

Peter Mauer, the ICRC president, pledged to deal with all humanitarian crises involving missing persons. During his speech, he said that resentment has become 'embedded' in Israeli and Palestinian societies as the conflict has continued on, unsolved, for over 70 years. He also took the time to denounce the lack of political action in the world's most pressing humanitarian conflicts today, saying that it is ''heartbreaking'' that ''human suffering is so low on the political agenda.''

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Earlier this week, Mauer met with Hamas leadership in Gaza and asked for permission to visit the Israelis currently being held by the terrorist group. Hamas is believed to have three Israeli civilians in captivity: Avera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima. The three men are known to have developmental disabilities; Mengistu had previously been admitted to a mental hospital before he wandered into Gaza via a beach in September 2014.

In addition, Hamas is believed to be holding the bodies of two soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin. The two were killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, and their bodies were taken by Hamas. The parents of the two have worked relentlessly over the past 3 years to try to get the government to do more to bring the boys' bodies back to Israel for proper burial.

In June, the president of the World Jewish Congress, Robert Singer, presented to Mauer a petition with over 11,000 signatures of individuals pleading with the Red Cross to pressure Hamas to release Goldin's and Shaul's bodies.

Hamas held former Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit captive for five years, from 2008 to 2011, during which time the Red Cross was prevented by Hamas from providing humanitarian assistance to Schalit.  

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