Red Cross president refuses to give hostages life-saving medication, Netanyahu alleges

The Red Cross says it does not have access to the hostages being held in Gaza.

Published: December 27, 2023 9:06am

Updated: December 27, 2023 10:58am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the president of the Red Cross refused to take life-saving medications to the hostages being held in Gaza, as the humanitarian organization has been under scrutiny for its response during the conflict and insists it does not have access to the hostages. 

Netanyahu said Monday he recently met with the International Committee of the Red Cross president, Mirjana Spoljaric.

"I placed a box of medicines on the table, medicines that a considerable number of the hostages ... need. Some are even life-saving medications. I told her, 'Take this box, pass it along. Give it to the Hamas operatives in Rafah. This is what I ask and demand of them,'" Netanyahu said. "She did not agree, and it was a difficult conversation."

The prime minister also said that his wife, Sara Netanyahu, sent a letter Sunday to Pope Francis asking him to speak with Spoljaric about visiting the hostages and giving them medicine.

The Red Cross said last week it is "not refusing to pass on medicines to the hostages" and has been calling to meet with them. 

The humanitarian agency said it met with families of those taken captive on Oct. 7. "We have indicated that we simply cannot deliver their medications since we do not have access to the hostages and because of logistics and security reasons that require medical items to be sourced differently," it added.

Spoljaric told Israel's Channel 12 on Monday that "Israel has to negotiate with Hamas" to allow the Red Cross to access the hostages. "They have to find this agreement so that we are let know where the hostages are because we currently don’t know where they are."

Israel and the U.S. had said that Red Cross visits to the remaining hostages were part of a temporary ceasefire agreement last month between Hamas and Israel. 

The Red Cross has been criticized for its actions during the Hamas-Israel conflict and even faces a lawsuit.

The families of five hostages filed a lawsuit against the Red Cross last week for alleged medical neglect and bias favoring the Palestinians, per Newsweek

The Red Cross was also slammed earlier this month for telling the parents whose daughter needs daily medication and was taken captive Oct. 7 to "think about the Palestinian side," according to Israeli outlet KAN, per The Jerusalem Post.

"It’s hard for the Palestinians, they’re being bombed," the Red Cross representatives reportedly told the parents. 

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