Families Of Israeli Hostages Criticise Aid Decision For Gaza

Families Of Israeli Hostages Criticise Aid Decision For Gaza

It's believed that between 150-200 Israelis and dual nationals have been held captive by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza since the October 7 attacks.

Kashif KhusroUpdated: Thursday, October 19, 2023, 12:22 PM IST
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Hostage Families Protesting Outside Kriya, the Israel Defence HQ in Tel Aviv | Kashif Khusro

Israeli families with members held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip expressed their dismay on Wednesday, following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement. He declared that Israel would permit humanitarian aid to be sent into Gaza through Egypt, without demanding any concessions for the captives.

'Bring Them Home Now'

The advocacy group, 'Bring Them Home Now', representing the families of the kidnapped Israelis by Hamas, stated their anger over the decision, saying, “The move to provide humanitarian aid to the inhabitants of Gaza has deeply angered the families of the hostages.” They further pointed out the harsh conditions faced by the kidnapped individuals, stating that they are "held underground like animals without any humane conditions, and yet, the Israeli government is offering treats and medical aid to their captors."

This decision came after pressure from the U.S., with Israel agreeing on Wednesday to allow essential supplies like water, medicine, and food to be sent to southern Gaza from Egypt. This follows a severe attack by Hamas on October 7, which saw around 2,500 militants breaking through the Israeli security fence, launching thousands of rockets and leading to the death of approximately 1,400 people, primarily civilians. Additionally, at least 199 hostages were taken into Gaza. Israel's report indicates that around 1,500 Hamas militants were also killed.

Israel's official stance is that while they will allow humanitarian aid, they will intervene if Hamas accesses any of it. Furthermore, Netanyahu emphasised that no aid would be permitted to enter Gaza through Israeli checkpoints.

Biden's stand on aid

US President Joe Biden, on a supportive wartime visit to Israel, announced the aid delivery to Gaza's civilians. Biden stated after a meeting in Tel Aviv, “The Gazan populace requires basic necessities like food, water, and medicine. I've requested the Israeli cabinet to consent to sending vital humanitarian aid, under the condition that there will be thorough inspections, ensuring the assistance benefits civilians, not Hamas.”

 Subsequently, Biden confirmed discussions with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who agreed to open the Rafah Crossing (between Egypt and Gaza) to permit around 20 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid. Since the onset of the war on October 7, Rafah has mostly remained closed.

The UN has estimated that rehabilitating Gaza after Israel's retaliations would require about 100 aid trucks daily.

150-200 Israelis held captive by Hamas

It's believed that between 150-200 Israelis and dual nationals have been held captive by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza since the October 7 attacks.

Addressing his meeting with Biden, Netanyahu outlined three main points. Firstly, he called for the captives' return, adding that they are actively working towards it. Secondly, he demanded Red Cross visits for the hostages. Lastly, he clarified that food and medicine from Israeli territories wouldn't be allowed into Gaza.

Despite this, the government confirmed that it would not obstruct aid from Egypt as long as it was limited to essential supplies for the southern Gaza civilian population, warning that supplies reaching Hamas would be barred.

Families' group hints at escalating protest

The families' group hinted at escalating their actions if the aid decision isn't reversed, although no specifics were provided. Regular protests by these families have taken place near the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, calling for government intervention.

Biden, before leaving Tel Aviv, underscored that the aid is intended for civilians and warned Hamas against misusing it. He added that the U.S. is coordinating with regional partners to ensure the hostages' safe return.

Meanwhile, at the Rafah crossing, trucks loaded with aid have been queued up awaiting entry. The UN has reported that around 3,000 tons of aid from Egypt are pending to be sent into Gaza.

 Egypt's foreign minister confirmed on Wednesday evening that a tripartite agreement between Egypt, Israel, and other global players had been reached to allow aid into Gaza via Rafah.

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