November 23, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hamas Continues to Deny Red Cross Access to Hostages, Proof of Life

November 23, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hamas Continues to Deny Red Cross Access to Hostages, Proof of Life

Latest Developments

As Hamas prepares to release 50 hostages, the fate of more than 180 other hostages — both Israelis and foreign nationals — remains unclear. Hamas continues to deny requests to visit the hostages by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Whether this access will be granted as part of the negotiated deal between Hamas and Israel announced November 22 is unknown. In a speech on November 9, ICRC President Miriana Spoljaric called her organization a “trusted neutral actor” that continued “to call for the immediate release of hostages” and remains “committed to facilitating any further release and to visiting the hostages.”

Expert Analysis

“The apparent unwillingness of the ICRC to perform basic functions of proof of life and verification of medical treatment is unprecedented and demands an immediate investigation.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Returning all of the hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza is a primary Israeli objective of the war. Much pressure has been placed on the Jewish state for a ceasefire, but much less has been applied to Hamas to release every one of the hostages. The quickest way to end this war is for Hamas to return the hostages to their families and unconditionally surrender.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

Little Known About Fate of Hostages

On November 14, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and hostage families met in Geneva with ICRC President Spoljaric to demand that ICRC workers in the Gaza Strip be allowed to visit the hostages in Gaza. Cohen noted that Israel currently has “no proof” that the hostages are alive. “The Red Cross must work through all channels to quickly visit the abductees, including children, women, and the elderly, who are being held hostage by the terrorist organization Hamas,” he added.

At the meeting, Spoljaric stated, “Hostage-taking is prohibited under international humanitarian law.” The organization continues to insist on the release of hostages, she noted, and is “doing everything in our power to gain access to them.” However, she added, “Please know that the ICRC cannot force its way in to where hostages are held. We can only visit them when agreements, including safe access, are in place.”

Fifty Hostages to Be Released, Joining Four Already Released and One Rescued

A deal reached between Hamas and Israel on November 22 is expected to result in the release of 50 women and children held hostage in Gaza. On October 20, Hamas released an American hostage and her daughter, Judith and Natalie Raanan. Four days later, Israelis Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifschitz were released as well. In addition, Israeli forces rescued Ori Megidish, an IDF soldier, on October 29. Since then, a Thai hostage who worked in Israel has given birth while in captivity. On November 16, Israeli troops discovered the bodies of two Israeli women, Yehudit Weiss and Noa Marciano, near Gaza’s Shifa Hospital.

How many aid groups knew Hamas was hiding in a hospital and lied about it?” by Rich Goldberg

Israel Agrees to Pause in Fighting to Recover At Least 50 Hostages,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas Demands Release of Terrorists in Exchange for Israeli Hostages,” FDD Flash Brief

Gaza Hospital Basement Used to Confine Hostages, Israel Finds,” FDD Flash Brief

Hostages at center of Israel’s focus,” by Seth J. Frantzman


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