Rescued hostages never received promised medication
Photos of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza are seen at a protest camp near the Knesset in Jerusalem, Jan. 14, 2024.
(Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch/TPS)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir wrote a letter to Netanyahu calling for the suspension of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

By Pesach Benson
February 14, 2024

(JNS) — The families of two hostages rescued from Gaza said their loved ones did not receive medication that Hamas and Qatar promised would be delivered to the captives, renewing calls for Israel to suspend humanitarian aid deliveries to the Strip.

Fernando Marman, 61, Louis Har, 70, were rescued from Rafah on Monday and are recovering at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan. The families were informed that Marman and Har were given some medication while in captivity, but not those specifically intended for them as part of an agreement in January in which Israel expanded the amount of humanitarian aid into the Strip.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir wrote a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday calling for the suspension of humanitarian aid transfers to Gaza until the well-being of the hostages is verified.

“Let us remind you that about a month ago you led a move against Qatar to deliver essential medicines to our abductees, in which you approved the transfer of two air force cargo planes filled with thousands of packages of medicines and humanitarian medical equipment to the residents of Gaza along with individual boxes of medicines for the abductees, in return for the promise that Hamas will present evidence that the abductees did indeed receive the drugs,” Ben-Gvir wrote.

“Now, when it is clear to the whole world that even the medicines intended for the abductees, through international mediation, did not reach their destination, I implore you to immediately stop the transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza and accept my simple position that until the State of Israel receives information about their condition and clear evidence that the medicines were delivered, no aid truck will enter the Gaza Strip,” added the minister.

In January, Qatar and France mediated an agreement in which Israel would approve more humanitarian aid to reach Gaza in exchange for Hamas allowing medicine to be delivered to the hostages. On Feb. 9, Qatar informed Israel and France of Hamas’s assurances that the medicines were delivered to the hostages. However, Israel and France have not received independent verification that the captives received their medicines.

Mor Hershkovitz, the head of data operations with the Hostages and Missing Families Forum’s medical team, told JNS last month that many of the hostages were likely in critical condition or dead without their medication.

International law explicitly stipulates the obligation of participants in armed conflict to allow impartial humanitarian bodies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross access to hostages.

The ICRC was not a party to the January agreement. Israelis have heavily criticized the Red Cross for failing to use its influence to gain access to the captives.

Humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza are unpopular among Israelis. For weeks, protesters chanting “Don’t feed Hamas” have tried to disrupt the aid trucks at the Kerem Shalom crossing and other points where the deliveries are inspected.

Netanyahu has defended the aid transfers, saying they are necessary to continue the war to free hostages and remove Hamas from control of Gaza.

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