Niva and Shai Wenkert, the parents of 22-year-old Omer, who was abducted into Gaza from the music festival near Kibbutz Rei’m on October 7, contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) just three days after the attack in a desperate attempt to get life-saving medication to their son.
"We got in touch with them after we digested our shock, but it was only last week that they asked to meet with us," Niva Wenkert said. "During the last two months, we tried to provide them with his medical record in various ways, but so far, they haven't responded."
Omer suffers from colitis, a chronic disease that can become life-threatening, and he takes medication daily to manage it. Since he was abducted, his parents have been fighting for two things – to get him the necessary treatment and to release him from captivity.
"The meeting with the ICRC was very strange," Niva recounted. "But the strangest thing was that they invited me to a meeting and told me not to bring Omer's medications because, currently, they have no way to reach the hostages and that essentially I have no reason to bring them."
"In the first part of the meeting, we met with them and another family, and they described the efforts they make to try to reach the Israeli captives. They talked about a series of things they asked from Hamas — releasing them, meeting with them, sharing information about them, and said that all were always refused by Hamas," according to Niva.
"In the second part, we filled out an information form together with very basic details. There was no place in any part of it to fill in Omer's medical condition. It was unclear. I think the meeting came after they faced very harsh criticism from international media. They didn't ask me about his condition, his needs, what medications he takes, and how he got there. But they did say that their mission isn’t simple, and their colleagues were harmed there. In other words, they tried to say that the criticism is unjustified," she explained.
"I do not expect anything from them. I don't believe they have any power, will, or influence to do anything," said the worried mother. "They won’t force themselves to act. They won’t make an effort to help us. We’re in this for 60 days already, and we’re taking plenty of actions, and I will continue to do anything they tell me has even a small chance to bring him back home.”
"Colitis is a very severe disease," she emphasized. "It causes acute inflammation in the intestines and excruciating pain. Without medication, it can lead to ulcers and, in extreme cases, some people have some of their intestines removed and replaced. It’s a very dangerous disease, and when left untreated it can lead to a life-threatening condition.”
“Our worry in these 60 days has been over the need to save Omer twice, once from his illness, and once from captivity. We have no peace of mind, we’re afraid for his fate. Since the releases began, we’ve been even more stressed because we saw a hostage who didn't receive her medication and was left in a critical condition. We heard testimonies from people who returned from Gaza that they didn’t get medications. I can't even imagine what my son is going through there,” she said.