December 4, 2023 | Flash Brief

Red Cross President Calls on Hamas to Release Hostages

December 4, 2023 | Flash Brief

Red Cross President Calls on Hamas to Release Hostages

Latest Developments

Hamas must free its hostages, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on December 4 upon her arrival to Gaza. “The hostages must be released, and the ICRC must be allowed to safely visit them,” Mirjana Spoljaric said. More than eight weeks after Hamas took approximately 240 hostages into Gaza, the ICRC has yet to perform its most basic functions of proof of life and verification of medical treatment. The condition of approximately 137 hostages remaining in Gaza is still unclear.

ICRC spokesman Jason Straziuso claimed on December 1 that the ICRC cannot access the hostages in Gaza without permission from local authorities. “We don’t have superpowers,” he said. “We can only take humanitarian action when the authorities in a given area give us the permission.”

Expert Analysis

“One of the greatest flaws of the hostage negotiation framework remains the failure to secure proof of life for all hostages as a precondition for any trades or ceasefires. The ICRC appears more like a Hamas collaborator than a helpless neutral party.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Hamas has made a theater of the hostage releases, attempting to repair the terrorist organization’s image after the atrocities of October 7. Returned hostages have given testimonies of being mistreated, held in cages, malnourished, and psychologically tortured and then being instructed by the armed Hamas terrorists to smile and wave as they are transferred from captivity. No one should fall for this farce.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Direction of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

More Than 100 Hostages Released During Pause

Hamas released 81 Israeli hostages between November 24 and November 30 as part of an Egyptian- and Qatari-mediated deal that paused fighting in the Gaza Strip. Additionally, Hamas released 23 Thai nationals and one Filipino under separate arrangements with Bangkok and Manila.

In each of the hostage transfers, the ICRC transported hostages in jeeps without tinted windows or shades, allowing Palestinian crowds to see and photograph the hostages inside. Videos posted online show increasingly aggressive demonstrators surrounding the vehicles carrying women and children.

Israel Presses ICRC for Hostage Update

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), pressed ICRC leaders on November 27 “to use every tool at their disposal to gain access to our hostages” and to ensure the hostages are “receiving the medical care they need.”

Elma Avraham, an 84-year-old hostage released on November 26, was reportedly in a “fight for her life” when she arrived at Soroka Hospital in southern Israel, according to hospital staff. Her family says the ICRC failed to provide her medical support while in captivity. Dr. Tzachi Slutsky, the deputy director of Soroka Hospital, said on November 27, “if Elma had not been transferred back yesterday, her condition would have deteriorated.”

IDF Calls on Red Cross to Finally Visit Hostages, Seven Weeks On,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas Continues to Deny Red Cross Access to Hostages, Proof of Life,” FDD Flash Brief “Pause in Fighting Begins Between Israel and Hamas,” FDD Flash Brief


International Organizations Israel Israel at War