January 19, 2024 | Flash Brief

Red Cross Will Not Aid in Transfer of Medicine to Hostages in Gaza

January 19, 2024 | Flash Brief

Red Cross Will Not Aid in Transfer of Medicine to Hostages in Gaza

Latest Developments

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will not aid in the transfer of medication to hostages in Gaza, the group said on January 18. Israel and Qatar signed a deal on January 12 to see the delivery of life-saving medicine to Israelis remaining in Hamas captivity. Frustrated by the ICRC’s failure to perform its most basic functions of seeking proof of life and verification of medical treatment, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “deliberately bypassed the Red Cross in helping arrange” the deliveries, the Associated Press reported. Instead, the Qatari air force began transferring the aid to Gaza, via Egypt, on January 17.

Netanyahu claimed that Qatar promised medicine would reach “every last hostage that needs it, and I expect them to meet their commitment” and that Israel would know if that did not occur. Another report, however, claimed that medicine arriving in Gaza would be turned over to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, which would be responsible for delivering it to the hostages.

Expert Analysis

“With the Red Cross refusing to perform its core mission, Israel is now restocking Hamas with medical supplies without a true way to verify medicine gets delivered to the hostages. Washington should be beating down Doha’s door 24 hours a day demanding video proof of delivery to every hostage that needs medicine. What will be the consequence for Qatar if that doesn’t happen?” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“The ICRC has proven totally useless to the Israeli hostages. After more than 100 days with very few signs of life, and reams of testimony of hostages being sexually abused and tortured in Gaza, reasonable people are wondering why the ICRC has failed so miserably at its job to reach the over 130 hostages — including children — still held in Gaza.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

ICRC Failures

Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari pressed ICRC leaders on November 27 to ensure the hostages are “receiving the medical care they need.” However, 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.”

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. 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.

Pressure on Qatar

Qatar inked the deal with Israel as U.S. officials mounted diplomatic pressure on Doha. On January 9, White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk spoke with the Qatari prime minister about facilitating the release of the remaining hostages, including six Americans. A bipartisan group of senators also met with Qatari leaders on January 9, urging them to “use whatever leverage they have” to free the remaining hostages, according to Senator Joni Ernst.

Qatar has long supported Hamas by providing the terrorist organization with hundreds of millions of dollars, harbor for its leaders, and international political backing. On October 7, Qatar’s foreign ministry published a statement holding “Israel alone responsible” for Hamas’s massacre and has condemned Israel’s defensive strikes in Gaza.

10 Things to Know About Hamas and Qatar,” FDD Insight

Qatar Accedes to Medicine Delivery for Hostages Held by Hamas,” FDD Flash Brief

Red Cross President Calls on Hamas to Release Hostages,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas Continues to Deny Red Cross Access to Hostages, Proof of Life,” FDD Flash Brief


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