Families of Elderly Israeli Hostages Decry Lack of Action by Red Cross

Hamas was supposed to allow the Red Cross to visit the Israeli hostages its terrorists are holding. They have not done so.

AP/Fatima Shbair
A Red Cross vehicle carrying Israeli hostages at the Gaza Strip crossing into Egypt. AP/Fatima Shbair

As part of efforts to get Red Cross representatives to check on the remaining Israeli hostages, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, is set to visit Egypt and the Gaza Strip on Monday, according to a report by Israel’s Army Radio. 

A stipulation of the truce between Israel and Hamas last week was that the Red Cross visit the remaining Israeli hostages, but the Red Cross has said that Hamas refused to allow the organization to do so far. 

In fact, since the beginning of the war, the Red Cross has not made any visits to Israelis being held captive by the Hamas terrorists, which include the elderly, sick, and those in need of medication and medical attention. 

Among the 10 Israeli women who returned home last Tuesday night in the fifth round of Gaza hostages freed by Hamas, was Ditza Heiman, 84, of Kibbutz Nir Oz.  When Hamas kidnapped Ms. Heiman from her home, they brought her to Gaza without her glasses or medication. She subsequently spent 53 days in Hamas activity without access to any medicine in abysmal sanitary conditions according to her daughter, Neta. 

“Mom returned home yesterday and I could not be more happy,” Neta Heiman told Israel’s Ynet News in an interview. “On the other hand, I am more worried than ever regarding all the hostages left behind.”

“Like every 84-year-old woman, mom has her box of medicines. She didn’t receive any pills for 53 straight days. We gave the list of medicines to the Red Cross on the second day of her captivity but she never received one visit from the Red Cross or any medication,” Neta Heiman said.  

There are currently more than 100 Israeli men and women being held captive by Hamas terrorists, including 43 residents of Kibbutz Nir Oz. “We understand how critical it is to free the rest of the refugees right now,” Neta Heiman said. 

One of the elderly women freed by Hamas last week, Elma Avraham, also 84, arrived in Israel in critical condition. Ms. Avraham, who was abducted from Kibbutz Nahal Oz on October 7, was immediately hospitalized in Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva upon her return, and doctors are fighting to save her life. Although Ms. Avraham’s condition had stabilized last week, her son, Uri Ravitz, said that had his mother remained another day in Hamas activity, she would probably not have survived. 

“My mom is proof of the extreme barbarity of the Hamas terror organization. There are still hostages in Gaza who need medical treatment.  All the humanitarian organizations and the government of Israel need to do everything possible to make medical aid accessible,” Mr. Ravitz said at a press conference after his mother’s release.

His sister, Tal Amano, added that prior to her capture, her mom was a happy, optimistic woman who lived independently and whose health was in check thanks to her medications. “We organized a package of all her medicines and my brother tried to pass it along to a representative of the Red Cross, who told him no. We tried a second time and the Red Cross turned us away again. There is no reason in the world why our mom returned to us in this condition.” 

Some of the medication that Ms. Avraham needed was for chronic conditions including a thyroid and heart disorder. Because she did not have access to her life-saving medications, her health deteriorated in captivity and her vital signs were very low, according to professor Moti Klein, head of Sirocco’s trauma unit.   

Another elderly hostage, Hanna Katzir, 77, of Kibbutz Nir Oz, lost 44 pounds in Hamas captivity. Ms. Katzir, who uses a walker, also did not receive the medication she needed.  Earlier in November, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group had claimed in a gruesome example of psychological warfare, that Ms. Katzir had died in captivity.  

Ms. Katzir was released on November 24, while her son, Elad, still remains in Hamas captivity. Ms. Katzir’s daughter, Carmit Palty Katzir, told Israeli radio that while she is very happy to have her mother back, she is very worried about her brother, Elad, and others who remain in Hamas captivity.  She also said that only upon her release, did her mother receive the news that her husband, Rami, 79, a tractor mechanic, had been murdered by Hamas terrorists in their home and their son had been kidnapped. “My mom only knew that my father had been injured, but not the aftermath,” Ms. Carmit said.

Meanwhile, Ditza Heiman’s cousin, Avigail Schlessinger, 91, is very happy to have her cousin home. “We didn’t know if Ditza would return to us, but I personally believed she would,” Ms. Schlesinger told the Sun. “I prayed so much and had faith it would happen.”

Ms. Schlesinger said she spoke with her beloved cousin after her release. “She sounded like the Ditza I’ve known all my life. Our family’s miracle before the holiday of Chanukah is that Ditza survived Hamas.”

The New York Sun

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