Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has expressed his criticism of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for what he perceives as an unbalanced focus on Israel during the conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Cohen specifically highlighted the ICRC’s failure to rescue Israeli hostages being held by Hamas. In a telephone conversation with ICRC director Miriana Spolijaric, Cohen stated that the Red Cross should not exist if it cannot visit the hostages held captive by Hamas. He emphasized the urgency of the situation, noting that children, women, and Holocaust survivors are among the captives.
Hamas seized about 240 Israeli citizens in a cross-border raid on October 7. These hostages remain unaccounted for in the besieged Palestinian enclave, which has been targeted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) with retaliatory strikes for several weeks. Cohen called on the Red Cross to take decisive action and utilize all available leverage to secure a visit to the hostages as soon as possible.
Cohen accused the aid organization of focusing disproportionately on Israel throughout the conflict and stated that the reputation of the Red Cross is at stake if it fails to secure a visit to the hostages held by Hamas.
In response to these criticisms, the Red Cross defended its work, stating that it is impossible for their teams to operate effectively when bombs continue to fall. Spokesperson Alyona Synenko emphasized that their priority is to gain access to all the hostages and provide them with necessary medical treatment. However, without the needed humanitarian space and access, they cannot fulfill their mission. Synenko called on all parties involved to show goodwill and respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.
The Red Cross has been involved in supplying humanitarian aid to Gaza but has also cautioned Israel about civilian casualties. In response, Cohen asserted that Israel is bound by international law and acts accordingly.
Palestinian officials claim that over 9,000 people have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, with 70% of the victims being children, women, and the elderly.
The situation in Gaza remains tense, with ongoing airstrikes and hostilities between Israel and Hamas. The Red Cross continues to advocate for access to the hostages and provides humanitarian aid to those affected by the conflict. The international community continues to monitor the situation and calls for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
In conclusion, Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has criticized the ICRC for its perceived unbalanced focus on Israel and its failure to rescue Israeli hostages held by Hamas. The Red Cross defended its work, stating that it is impossible to operate effectively during ongoing bombings. The situation in Gaza remains dire, with civilian casualties and a need for humanitarian aid. The international community calls for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.