The Red Cross Has Become a Glorified Uber Driver

The Red Cross prides itself on being unwaveringly neutral, but when it comes to Israeli lives, the Red Cross are unwaveringly absent.
December 6, 2023
Hostages are transported in International Committee of the Red Cross vehicles from the Gaza Strip through the Rafah land crossing on November 30, 2023 in Rafah, Gaza. (Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)

Following the Holocaust, the International Committee of the Red Cross openly admitted they failed to help and protect Jews from extermination by the Nazis.

On October 7th, as Hamas terrorists massacred 1,400 people in southern Israel and took at least 240 hostages, the Red Cross is – yet again – missing in action.

It should not go unnoticed that the barbaric October 7 massacre was the single largest mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust. Today, the perpetrators might be different, but Hamas is just like the Nazis, in both their agenda and brutality. Perhaps the only difference is, whereas the Nazis sought to cover up their heinous crimes, Hamas was doing so gleefully, using ‘go-pro’ cameras and streaming theirs on the internet in real time.

Of the 240 hostages Hamas kidnapped into the dungeons of Gaza, at least 40 were children, many mercilessly torn apart from the clutches of their parents’ arms, like Ela and Dafna Ziv, 8 and 15, who were abducted from Nahal Oz and pulled from their beds in pajamas, but not before first witnessing their father being executed.

The youngest captive is Kfir Bibas, who was a mere 9-months-old when he was taken from his home. Together with his brother Ariel, 4-years-old, they remain the only children left in captivity, their fate, including that of their mother Shiri, still unknown.

Many of the hostages are also elderly, and sick, in need of urgent medical attention, while at least 10 have been reported executed in captivity.

For the abundance of clarity, if it still needs to be reiterated, babies and grandmothers, are not prisoners of war, but hostages, and that the taking of hostages is a grave war crime and gross violation of international humanitarian law (IHL), including under Article 8(2) of the Rome Statute, the International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages (1979), as well as the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1979.

Under IHL, pending the release of the hostages, Hamas must treat each one with dignity, provide necessary medical care and information as to their whereabouts and condition. They have violated every single one of these obligations, while further engaging in psychological warfare and torture, through their degrading propaganda videos.

Although the Red Cross has condemned the taking of the hostages and called for their release, the stark reality is they have absolutely nothing to show for it.

They have not seen a single hostage in captivity, have not obtained any proof of life, cannot tell us where they are located, the condition they are in, or if they need medical assistance. The Red Cross’s role has effectively been relegated to no more than a glorified Uber driver.

Although about 100 hostages have now been released (with at least another 137 remaining), it has not been because of the Red Cross, but in spite of their absence and utter ineffectiveness.

One of the released hostages, Elma Avraham, 84, is now fighting for her life. At a press conference following her return, her children heartbreakingly described how the Red Cross abandoned their mother, saying how the family even traveled to the Red Cross office to provide them with her mother’s medicine, but the Red Cross refused to take it. Elma’s children said the Red Cross “did nothing” to help their mother, asking “Why are they even there if they don’t do anything?”

The fact that the Red Cross is dealing with a ruthless enemy that does not abide by any rules or norms of international law is not an excuse and does absolve them of their mandate to provide “humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict.” Nor is it enough to merely politely ‘call’ for their release.

The Red Cross still has nothing to show as Hamas have been cruelly holding the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, taken captive during a humanitarian ceasefire in the 2014 war with Israel.

It has nothing to show as Avner Mengistu, a 37-year-old Israeli civilian with mental health issues, has been held hostage by Hamas also since 2014, or Hisham al-Sayed, a Bedouin Israeli, who is seriously ill and has been held hostage in Gaza since 2015.

And the Red Cross had nothing to show the entire time IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, was held captive in Gaza for almost 6 years, until finally his release in 2011.

The reality is, when it comes to Israeli lives, the Red Cross has embarrasingly little to show, full stop.

Of the 240 hostages Hamas took captive, following the October 7th massacre, at least ten are believed to have been also American nationals.

The United States is by far the single largest state donor to the Red Cross, in 2022, contributing almost $700 million.

Perhaps Congress ought to be asking where that tax money is going, why the Red Cross been unable to see even a single hostage, or, for that matter, why they ignored the irrefutable evidence right under their noses that Hamas was using Shifa hospital in Gaza as their terrorist headquarters.

Almost eight weeks after the October atrocity, they are unable to even provide proof of life of the youngest of the hostages, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas.

The Red Cross prides itself on being unwaveringly neutral, but when it comes to Israeli lives, the Red Cross are unwaveringly absent.

Arsen Ostrovsky is a human rights attorney and CEO of the International Legal Forum. You can follow him on Twitter (‘X’) at: @Ostrov_A.

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