International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday that while his organization has been in the Middle East for many years, his current attempt to obtain information regarding three Israeli civilians being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, as well as about the fate of two IDF soldiers who were killed during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, is one of the longest tasks his organization has ever faced.
Following the meeting on Wednesday, Netanyahu praised the Red Cross for maintaining a “fair and open” relationship with the State of Israel, and said the organization makes an important contribution to Israel and to peace.
“I must say that you’ve come at a time that we are dealing with this insufferable cruelty, with our dead soldiers’ bodies held and no information about them being released. “No less important, there are two helpless, innocent Israeli civilians who are being held in Gaza who you asked to visit, and about whom we’ve asked for information, but received nothing,” Netanyahu said.
The meeting took place a day after Maurer met with Hamas leader Yahiya Sinwar, and, according to Palestinian media, asked him to ‘visit the missing Israeli soldiers.’
Hamas is holding the bodies of two Israeli soldiers believed to have been killed in the 2014 Gaza war, Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, who were killed in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge, as well as three Israeli civilians: Avera Mengistu, an Ethiopian born Israeli Jew, and Hisham al-Sayed and Jumaa Abu Ghanima, Israeli Arabs.
Mengistu, al-Sayed and Abu Ghanima are all believed to be alive; all three reportedly crossed into Gaza of their own volition and Mengistu and al-Sayed are believed to be suffering from mental illness.