The Red Cross announced Monday evening that its president had traveled to Qatar to meet Palestinian Hamas leader Ismaïl Haniyeh to discuss “humanitarian issues related to the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza,” a Palestinian government ruled by that movement area to move forward.
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“President Mirjana Spoljaric met with Ismaïl Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, and separately with the Qatari authorities,” the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement.
This visit comes at a time when Qatar, which is acting as a mediator for the release of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip, assured on Sunday that there were now “very few” obstacles to an agreement.
According to the ICRC, Ms. Spoljaric’s visit is part of efforts to “hold direct discussions with all parties to improve respect for international humanitarian law.”
He emphasized that his president had also met “several times in recent weeks with families of hostages held in Gaza as well as high-ranking Israeli and Palestinian officials.”
In this regard, the ICRC “insists that (its) teams be granted permission to visit the hostages to ensure their well-being and administer medication, and to enable the hostages to communicate with their relatives.”
“Arrangements must be made so that the ICRC can carry out its work safely. The ICRC cannot forcibly enter the places where the hostages are being held, nor do we know where they are,” the statement continued.
The Israeli military estimates that about 240 people were taken hostage in the Gaza Strip during Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israeli territory on October 7. According to a report by the Israeli authorities, around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, died in Israel.
In retaliation, Israel has relentlessly bombed the Gaza Strip and has been conducting a ground operation since October 27 with the aim of “wiping out” the Islamist movement in power in the besieged Palestinian territories. According to the Hamas government, these Israeli attacks on Gaza killed more than 13,300 people, including more than 5,600 children.