‘Hamas terrorists got a visit from the Red Cross, our hostages in the tunnels didn’t’

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‘Hamas terrorists got a visit from the Red Cross, our hostages in the tunnels didn’t’

Noam Sagi, whose mother Ada was taken from Kibbutz Nir Oz, speaks at a rally outside the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross

Noam Sagi with a rally participant holding a poster of his mother, Ada, during the seven weeks of fighting for her release. Photograph: Beatrice Sayers
Noam Sagi with a rally participant holding a poster of his mother, Ada, during the seven weeks of fighting for her release. Photograph: Beatrice Sayers

An estimated 800 people gathered outside the London offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Thursday evening calling for it to help the hostages held by Hamas since 7 October.

Noam Sagi spoke of his mother, Ada, who has had hospital treatment for a lung condition. “For 34 days. Under the ground. In a tunnel with no ventilation. Damp. Can anyone tell me how she is doing, how she is breathing?” he asked. “And the other hostages, how are they doing?”

He said that three days after the massacre, a team from Nir Oz, the kibbutz where his mother lived, managed to deliver medicines, each one labelled with the name of its recipient, to a clinic in Gaza. “It’s still there. 34 days later, still no one has visited from the Red Cross.”

On 7 October, Sagi continued, Israel arrested Hamas terrorists. “They got a visit from the Red Cross in the Israeli jail. Our hostages in the tunnels didn’t.”

The medical needs and welfare of the 240 hostages were the focus of the gathering in Moorfields, in the City. Two British–Israeli doctors joined Sagi’s call for the humanitarian organisation to visit the hostages immediately to assess their condition.

“We’re not asking for the impossible here. We’re asking for the most basic, simple intervention in line with the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross,” said Dr Elisha Waldman, a hospice and palliative medicine specialist at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. “It’s been too long, 34 days. It needs to happen now.”

About 800 attended attended the vigil in Moorfields, in the City of London

Mr Elliot Sorene, consultant trauma, orthopaedic and hand surgeon, who said he had worked in Israel, southern Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip – and demonstrated his Arabic to the crowd – spoke of his son, Ariel, who escaped from the Nova music festival, his cousin Jake Marlowe who had died, and a friend who had been taken hostage.

He said that while he himself had treated horrifically injured survivors of the Dolphinarium and Mike’s Place bombings in 2001 and 2003, “The scale of the atrocities and cruelty that I have seen is nothing to what was perpetrated on 7 October.”

Along with the other speakers, Sagi, a psychotherapist in London who was born in the Nir Oz kibbutz, addressed the Red Cross directly, saying: “Today we stand here to ask you one thing – do your job.”

Mr Elliot Sorene (left) and Magen David Adom UK chairman Russell Jacobs at the ICRC UK offices on Thursday

Magen David Adom UK issued a statement on Thursday, saying: “The ICRC’s main duty of care under the Geneva Convention is to monitor and ensure the wellbeing of hostages and, ultimately, facilitate their freedom. We at MDA UK are deeply and bitterly disappointed by this absence, noting that, when hostages are taken from Israel, the ICRC has said next to nothing.”

In a statement, the ICRC said: “Our hearts go out to people who lost family members on 7 October or who are worried sick about loved ones taken hostage. We want families to know that the plight of their loved ones being held is one of our top priorities and we will never give up trying to visit them.”

It added: “We are speaking with Hamas, Israeli officials, and others on this issue. The ICRC has no means to enforce decisions of the parties to a conflict, anywhere. Our only tools are dialogue and convincing parties to implement their obligations under IHL [international humanitarian law].”

Thursday’s event was a collaboration between Kidnapped From Israel and the Hostages and Missing Families Forum. Similar events took place in Israel and around the world.

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