The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has a mandate to "alleviate human suffering, protect life and health, and uphold human dignity," especially during armed conflicts. It has an annual budget of roughly $2.7 billion to fulfill that mandate. Yet, when it comes to the Israelis kidnapped by Hamas during the terrorist organization's horrific invasion on October 7, the ICRC has literally done absolutely nothing.
Approximately 136 hostages remain in Gaza, but Israel has confirmed that at least 32 of those hostages are no longer alive.
Throughout the more than four months that have passed since thousands of Hamas terrorists invaded southern Israel on October 7 and raped, mutilated, tortured, burned and murdered their way through Israeli communities, kidnapping more than 240 hostages and dragging them into the terror tunnels of Gaza, and killing more than 1,200 mostly civilians, including babies and the elderly, the ICRC has refused to play any role in helping the hostages in any way, including basic ICRC obligations such as visiting them to check on their physical condition – many hostages were severely injured by the terrorists, when they were taken hostage – and bringing them medication.
The organization boasts :
"The ICRC's actions are aimed at protecting the lives, health and dignity of people affected by violence. In doing so, the ICRC takes a holistic, integrated approach in which three distinct areas of action – protection, assistance and prevention – are closely interlinked. Work done in any one of these areas informs, reinforces and complements actions taken in the others."
So far, the ICRC has done absolutely nothing to "protect' the lives of the hostages in Gaza, has not "assisted " them, or done anything to "prevent" the ongoing physical and psychological abuse of the hostages, including rape and torture. The ICRC has done nothing, even if such attempts at prevention had meant only the most basic task of obtaining access to the hostages and ensuring that any signs of abuse would be made public for the world to react to, or even just making public statements directed at Hamas to the effect that they must not harm the hostages. The ICRC has uttered no such thing.
The only time they have shown themselves on the scene was in operating what has been dubbed as the ICRC's "Uber" service: passing the little more than 100 freed hostages from Hamas vehicles into the ICRC's SUVs.
Shockingly, the ICRC has consistently refused to provide the hostages with life-saving medicine, and claimed that Hamas would not let them.
According to ICRC spokeswoman Elizabeth Shaw:
"Since October 7, the ICRC has continuously called for the release of all hostages and for their humane treatment. We have been meeting with Hamas at all levels and undertaking humanitarian diplomacy efforts to gain access to people being held, to be able to visit them, and bring the necessary items, like medicines."
Five families of Israeli hostages are suing the ICRC for its neglect. One of them, former Israeli hostage Raz Ben Ami, who suffers from several brain tumors, is suing the ICRC for its neglect: the organization has violated its own mandate by not visiting the hostages and guaranteeing their safety or taking action to assist in their release. Ben Ami's family pleaded with the ICRC to bring her the vital medications, but ICRC officials in Israel, Germany and the United States all rejected the family's requests. According to the lawsuit, the family's appeals were acknowledged with an email dismissing the issue with a message wishing the family luck with "reconnecting with their loved ones."
Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who is representing the families, said:
"[The ICRC] does nothing, absolutely zero, for the Israeli hostages, and I want to remind you that young women and young men kept hostages by Hamas are probably being raped, being sexually abused or assaulted, being tortured. We know that because we hear the testimonies of the hostages that were released. And one of the jobs of [the] Red Cross is to prevent this from happening. They are supposed to make sure that their hostages are safe or not getting harmed.
"The Red Cross ignores and betrays its duties, a breach of its legal obligation, and therefore is being sued for compensation for the damages caused to the hostages, and being sued for orders that we asked the court to compel the Red Cross to fulfill its obligation to compel [it] to visit the centers to give them the medicine they need and to protect their well-being."
During a meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem in December, the ICRC readily admitted that it had not even tried getting access to the hostages.
"You have every avenue, every right and every expectation to place public pressure on Hamas," Netanyahu told ICRC chief Mirjana Spoljaric Egger.
"It is not going to work because the more public pressure we seemingly would do, the more they will shut the door," Egger claimed.
"I'm not sure about that. Why don't you try?" Netanyahu asked.
Netanyahu told a special Knesset session attended by families of the hostages that the ICRC had refused his request to bring the medicine:
"I met with the Red Cross; I handed them a box of medicine for some of the hostages shown here. Some of them really need it... I told a representative to take this box to Rafah; she said 'no.' It was a difficult conversation."
Perhaps the ICRC is unwilling to try, because they are Hamas sympathizers.
Families of hostages held in Gaza reported that ICRC officials, who had invited to a meeting the parents of one hostage, Doron Steinbrecher, who is in dire need of her daily medications, rebuked the parents instead of telling them that their daughter would finally receive the much-needed medication.
"Think about the Palestinian side," the representatives of the Red Cross told the parents. "It's hard for the Palestinians, they're being bombed."
"We left there as we entered: without new information, without something new, and with disappointment," said Simona, the hostage's mother, about the meeting.
In another case, the ICRC refused to bring Elma Avraham, an 84-year-old woman, who has since been released from Hamas captivity, her medication. She was in critical condition upon her release.
"We were in meetings with the Red Cross and asked them to make every effort to bring the medications to her, because some hostages are just dying. From a medical and nursing standpoint, what we witnessed is unlawful neglect," said Dr. Nadav Davidovitz, who treated Elma after her release.
Even now, after an agreement was brokered between Israel and Hamas by Qatar to deliver medication to the hostages in Gaza, via France to Qatar and then through Egypt, the ICRC refuses to touch the medicines and has said that it wants nothing to do with them. The ICRC wrote in a statement:
"The parties negotiated the agreement, including how much medicines would be delivered and by whom, with Qatar brokering the deal. The mechanism that was agreed to does not involve the ICRC playing any part in its implementation, including the delivery of medication.
"The ICRC welcomes the agreement to deliver medications to the hostages and to medical facilities for the residents of Gaza as a positive humanitarian step."
Israel, incredibly has to rely on employees of the "Gaza Ministry of Health" – Hamas terrorists, in other words – to deliver the often life-saving medications to the hostages. As of this writing, while the medications have arrived in Gaza, no one, as far as we know, has distributed them to the hostages.
"We know that the medications effectively entered into Gaza. The modalities of their transfer to the hostages were dealt with under Qatar's mediation. We now expect to receive verifiable proof that the medications have reached their beneficiaries," a French unnamed official said on February 6.
On social media, the ICRC has made no secret of its anti-Israel bias and its complete lack of care for the Israeli hostages held by Hamas. According to a recent report by UN Watch, the ICRC "has adopted an overwhelmingly skewed approach to the Hamas-Israel war in its social media..."
"Out of 187 tweets published by the main Red Cross accounts on Twitter (now known as X), including those by ICRC president Mirjana Spoljaric Egger and director-general Robert Mardini, 77% were focused on criticizing Israel, expressly or by implication. Only 7% of the tweets criticized Hamas...
"While statements against Hamas and Israel use emotive language, the ICRC has made 6 times more statements to criticize Israel and has often resorted to hyperbole to cast Israel as a 'limitless' destroyer to evoke sympathy for one side and demonize Israel. No statement was made speaking directly about the massacre of October 7th. Beyond language, only 2 statements condemning Hamas include videos and pictures while 38 tweets condemning Israel contain images, graphic testimonies, and videos designed to solicit greater attention and a stronger response. Through their Twitter, it is evident that the ICRC has dedicated large amounts of resources to interviewing doctors and victims in Gaza, to editing infographics and videos, and to appearing on the news to talk about the devastation in Gaza. Comparatively little to no attention was paid to Israeli victims."
As if to confirm the ICRC's cover-up for Hamas, the newly appointed head of the ICRC is Pierre Krähenbühl, who was the head of UNRWA, the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees from 2014 until 2019, when he was forced to resign after a damning internal ethics probe. UNRWA is effectively embedded with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. On October 7, as the Hamas massacre of civilians in Israel unfolded, UNRWA employees in Gaza celebrated. In November, a released hostage revealed that he had been held hostage by an UNRWA teacher, a father of 10, who kept him locked up and barely gave him food or medical care.
UN Watch stated in a recent report:
"UNRWA has been a breeding ground for Palestinian terrorists from its early day... The perpetrators of the 1972 Munich Olympic Massacre, in which 11 Israeli athletes were murdered... almost all were raised and educated in UNRWA schools... Likewise, Mohamed Deif, the commander of Hamas's Al Qassem Brigades, who masterminded the October 7th massacre, was also educated in a UNRWA school,"
This is not the first time the ICRC ignored the plight of Jewish victims. During the Holocaust, the ICRC did nothing to help any of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and instead wrote a "favorable report of the good treatment of Jews in German camps."
One Holocaust survivor asked in May 1945: "Where, above all, was the International Red Cross Committee?"
Unfortunately, in our own time, we already know the answer: The ICRC is cheering for Hamas.
Robert Williams is a researcher based in the United States.