In effort to pressure Hamas to release Israeli hostages, and the bodies of kidnaped killed soldiers, Israel suspended visitation rights to their terrorist prisoners.
• Israel’s Public Security Ministry rejected the ICRC’s request outright.
• Father of Lt. Hadar Goldin, whose body is held by Hamas, says demand demonstrates the Red Cross’ “hypocrisy and inhumanity”
By Itsik Saban
The International Committee of the Red Cross has demanded that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan reinstate visitation rights for Hamas prisoners from Gaza who are serving time in Israeli prisons. According to the committee, Israel’s decision to prevent family members from visiting security prisoners is a “violation of the Geneva Convention.”
In an interview with Israel Hayom Sunday, Simcha Goldin, the father of the late Hadar Goldin who was killed in Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and whose body is being held captive by Hamas, called the move “a demonstration of hypocrisy and inhumanity” from the Red Cross.
Referring to the letter sent by the ICRC to Erdan outlining its demands, Goldin remarked: “The letter went out with the knowledge that dead soldiers are being held hostage in Gaza while Hamas prisoners … receive improved conditions according to any convention.”
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Goldin said Israel’s decision to deny the security prisoners visitation rights did not go far enough, in light of the fact that the bodies of Goldin and fellow fallen soldier Oron Shaul are still being held captive, along with three Israeli nationals who wandered into Gaza.
The Public Security Ministry has rejected the ICRC’s request outright.
In a statement on June 8, the ICRC urged Hamas “to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law with regard to the five Israeli nationals who went missing in Gaza between July 2014 and 2016 and remain unaccounted for.
“Missing persons, regardless of their status — soldiers fallen or captured during the fighting, or civilians taken captive by an adverse party — are protected by humanitarian law. They and their families must be shown due regard under the law,” the statement said.
“The ICRC has consistently reminded the Hamas authorities, at the highest level, of their legal and humanitarian obligations, and told them that intentionally withholding information about missing persons is acting in violation of humanitarian law. The right to know the fate of missing relatives is a fundamental principle of humanitarian law. Yet recent video clips portraying the missing Israeli nationals and their families are giving rise to new speculations about their fate and adding to their families’ anguish,” the statement went on to say.
Jacques de Maio, the head of the ICRC’s delegation to the region, emphasized that “persons captured alive must be accounted for and treated humanely. Human remains, too, must be handled with dignity, identified and returned to the families concerned. These are among the most widely accepted rules of warfare.”
Three weeks after the ICRC issued the statement, Israel barred family members from visiting jailed Hamas terrorists. The move was part of Israeli efforts to pressure the terrorist organization to return the bodies of Goldin and Shaul and to release Avera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed. Reports have suggested that a third Israeli national had crossed into Gaza and remains missing, but no official body has confirmed these reports.
In his letter to Erdan, de Maio demanded that Israel reinstate the family visits immediately and argued that Israel must provide equal treatment to Palestinian prisoners “without discrimination based on their political views, among other things.”
Sources in the Public Security Ministry told Israel Hayom on Sunday that “it is strange that the Red Cross is so concerned about members of a terrorist organization but isn’t doing everything it can to ensure that Hamas lives up to the basic requirements of the Geneva Convention, like providing information on our captive soldiers and civilians.”
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