The Red Cross announced on Monday evening that its president had traveled to Qatar to meet with the leader of the Palestinian Hamas movement, Ismail Haniyeh, in order to “advance humanitarian issues related to the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza,” the Palestinian territories governed by this movement.
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The International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement, “President Mirjana Spoljaric met with Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political bureau, and separately with the Qatari authorities.”
This visit comes at a time when Qatar, which is mediating an attempt to release Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip, confirmed on Sunday that there were only “very minor” obstacles to reaching an agreement.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Ms. Spoljaric’s visit is part of efforts to hold “direct discussions with all parties to improve respect for international humanitarian law.”
He confirms that its president also met “on multiple occasions in recent weeks with the families of hostages being held in Gaza, in addition to senior Israeli and Palestinian officials.”
In this regard, the International Committee insists “on allowing its teams to visit the hostages in order to ensure their safety and provide them with medicines, and so that the hostages can communicate with their loved ones and families.”
“Agreements must be reached to enable the ICRC to carry out its work safely. The ICRC cannot forcefully enter places where hostages are being held, and we do not know their whereabouts,” the statement continued.
The Israeli military estimates that about 240 people were taken hostage in the Gaza Strip during the unprecedented October 7 Hamas attack on Israeli territory. This led to the killing of about 1,200 people in Israel, most of them civilians, according to a report by the Israeli authorities.
In response, Israel has relentlessly bombed the Gaza Strip and, since October 27, launched a ground operation aimed at “eliminating” the Islamist movement that holds power in the besieged Palestinian territories. These Israeli raids on Gaza left more than 13,300 dead, including more than 5,600 children, according to the Hamas government.