Netanyahu Tells Red Cross Chief: Hamas Holding Helpless Israelis in Gaza

Netanyahu tells Peter Maurer that organization can help return captive civilians and bodies of soldiers. Hamas refused to provide Maurer with any information about the captives

Peter Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, arriving at the Palestinian side of the Erez checkpoint in Beit Hanun, northern Gaza Strip, Sept. 5, 2017.
Adel Hana/AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, that the organization could help in retrieving Israeli civilians and the bodies of Israeli soldiers being held in the Gaza Strip. The two met in Jerusalem on Wednesday during Maurer’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian areas.

Two Israeli civilians, Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, have been missing since they crossed the border into the Gaza Strip in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and are believed to be held by the Hamas government that rules the territory. In addition, Hamas is in possession of the remains of Israeli soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who died in the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip.

"You come here as we are faced with this intolerable cruelty, when the bodies of our slain soldiers are held and information about them is not released," Netanyahu said. "And just as important, we have helpless and innocent Israeli civilians being held in Gaza." 

During a visit to the Strip on Tuesday, Maurer raised the issue with Hamas leaders, who refused to provide any information about the captives or allow him to visit them.

A statement on the website of the Prime Minister’s Office pointed out that Maurer sought to visit the civilians and added that Netanyahu expressed his appreciation for the ICRC president’s “help and assistance in this humanitarian effort in the face of Hamas’s cruelty.”