Families of hostages burst into tears during a difficult meeting with ICRC chief: 'These are my son's medications'

Mirjana Spoljaric, criticized by father of Omer Vankert, still in captivity, and presented the medicine he needs; Foreign Minister Cohen also attending meeting says ICRC fails in task to visit captives

Families of the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, met on Thursday with Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in an emotional exchange bringing some family members to tears.
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"The gathering proved to be challenging for all participants," Foreign Minister Eli Cohen who was also in attendance, said. He emphasized the critical responsibility of the ICRC. "Its foremost duty is to ensure the delivery of medical supplies to those held captive. For 69 days, the organization has not succeeded in fulfilling this duty, marking each day a failure . We have called upon the Red Cross to adopt a more determined and vocal stance across all forums," he said.
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שי ונקרט אביו של עומר ונקרט עם אלי כהן
שי ונקרט אביו של עומר ונקרט עם אלי כהן
Foreign Minister Cohen with Shay Vankert, Omer's father
(Photo: Yair Sagi)
"Acts such as the abduction of the elderly and sexual assault cannot be met with silence by any entity dedicated to humanitarian aid. We have conveyed to the president that this is not a matter of two equal sides."
Cohen suggested that the Red Cross should direct its attention to "the significant humanitarian crisis inflicted upon Gaza by Hamas, rather than blame it on the State of Israel, which abides by and operates under international law."
The father of Omer, a captive in Gaza, presented Spoljaric with the medication his son, who is afflicted with colitis, needs. "I received no indication from her about whether she plans to engage with captives who have endured harsh conditions upon their return," he said.
"Omer and his fellow captives have been denied any contact with the Red Cross. We anticipate that the organization will openly criticize the exploitation of civilian sites by Hamas," Cohen said.
Health Minister Uriel Busso spoke of a confidential report given to Spoljaric, detailing the harrowing experiences masked by the relieved expressions of those who have returned to Israel. He implied that the contents of the report are so impactful that they might disrupt her peace of mind.
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 שר החוץ אלי כהן, שר הבריאות אוריאל בוסו, נציגי משפחות החטופים ונשיאת הצלב האדום מיריאנה ספולאריץ'
 שר החוץ אלי כהן, שר הבריאות אוריאל בוסו, נציגי משפחות החטופים ונשיאת הצלב האדום מיריאנה ספולאריץ'
President of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoljaric, sitting next to Foreign Minister Cohen and Health Minister Ariel Busso
(Photo: Bruno Sharvit, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Unit)
Criticism has been directed at the ICRC and Spoljaric in particular, within Israel, for what is perceived as a disproportionate focus on the hardships faced by Gaza's residents while overlooking the plight of captives in the territory. In a recent video update from her trip to Gaza, Spoljaric briefly acknowledged the captives, urging the protection of their rights, and also referred to the "detainees" in Israeli custody.
Spoljaric's video further highlighted the dire state of medical facilities in Gaza, the struggles of amputees, and the general suffering of the civilian population. She relayed troubling information about the loss of surgical capacity in hospitals in northern Gaza and made an appeal to the global community, stating, "We are obligated to seek solutions to this undeniable moral failure. I urge all those with the capacity to influence the situation to de-escalate tensions and seek non-military resolutions to the profound distress affecting both parties."
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