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Families of Hostages in Gaza Are Desperate for Proof of Life

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“We share the frustration. We perceive the ache,” mentioned Jason Straziuso, a spokesman for the Crimson Cross. “We’re not bulletproof, and it’s not potential for us to stroll right into a battle zone in hostile territory with out permission — to stroll as much as a gaggle of individuals, most definitely holding weapons that they are going to use, and demand that they allow us to inside. It’s not potential.”

The Crimson Cross has about 130 staff in Gaza, he mentioned, giving it some means to ship humanitarian support and to go to the scenes of destruction from the struggle. However even with that entry, assembly with the hostages requires an settlement with Hamas.

Mr. Straziuso mentioned Crimson Cross officers had been speaking to Hamas, Israel, the US and different nations concerning the situation of the hostages.

However these talks have been shrouded in secrecy.

In a press release on Monday, the Crimson Cross mentioned the group is “insisting that our groups be allowed to go to the hostages to verify on their welfare,” however added that “the I.C.R.C. doesn’t participate in negotiations resulting in the discharge of hostages. As a impartial humanitarian middleman, we stay able to facilitate any future launch that the events to the battle conform to.”

Separate discussions a couple of potential launch of some hostages are being carried out by way of intermediaries, with Israel and the US speaking with Hamas solely by the use of messages handed backwards and forwards by negotiators in Egypt and Qatar.

A frontrunner of Hamas mentioned in October that not all the Israeli hostages who had been taken to Gaza had been being held by the group, a declare that most probably complicates negotiations for his or her launch. Osama Hamdan, a member of Hamas’s political bureau in Lebanon, mentioned different teams, together with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a separate group that’s an ally of Hamas, had been additionally holding a few of the hostages.

In late October, Israeli forces rescued one hostage, and 4 others had been launched by Hamas a couple of week earlier. However there have been no additional breakthroughs.

Warring nations have blocked the Crimson Cross from visiting hostages or prisoners of struggle in earlier conflicts. In 2022, eight months into the struggle between Ukraine and Russia, the Crimson Cross nonetheless had little entry to prisoners held by both aspect. In a press release on the time, the group wrote that “blaming the I.C.R.C. for being denied full and quick entry doesn’t assist prisoners of struggle or their households.”

However the truth that there is no such thing as a definitive playbook within the case of hostages throughout wartime, no actual timing for reporting about whether or not they’re lifeless or alive leaves the relations with little to carry on to as the times slowly cross.

Liz Hirsh Naftali, the great-aunt of Abigail Idan, recounted on NBC Information how the 3-year-old Abigail watched on Oct. 7 as Hamas fighters shot and killed her mom and ran along with her father and two siblings.

“Abigail was in her father’s arms,” Ms. Naftali mentioned on “NBC Nightly Information” with Lester Holt. “And as they ran, a terrorist shot him and killed him, and he fell onto Abigail.”

She added, “We discovered that Abigail truly had crawled out from underneath her father’s physique and, stuffed with his blood, went to a neighbor, and so they took her in.”

Hamas later seized the neighbor, her three kids and Abigail, Ms. Naftali mentioned.

Rachel Goldberg, who’s married to Mr. Polin, and different relations have mentioned they do not know when — or whether or not — they are going to uncover something definitive about their family members. Ms. Goldberg detailed the grief of a mom who has no thought if her son is alive “or should you died yesterday, or should you died 5 minutes in the past.”

(In 2004, earlier than transferring to Israel, Jon Polin and Rachel Goldberg’s son Hersch attended the identical preschool as my kids in Richmond, Va.)

Inside Israel, the place the faces of the hostages are plastered all over the place on posters that proclaim them “KIDNAPPED,” activists have mounted an aggressive marketing campaign to demand swifter motion from the Crimson Cross.

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